Terrorism Trials: Military Commissions

Defense Counsel to DCCA: Still No Face Time with Al-Bahlul

By Raffaela Wakeman
Tuesday, August 20, 2013, 9:13 PM

The defense lawyer for Guantanamo detainee and military commission convict Ali Hamza Ahmad Suliman Al-Bahlul has reported to the D.C. Circuit once more on his efforts to meet with his client. The D.C. Circuit ordered that counsel collect an affirmation by the detainee himself indicating that he would like to continue to appeal his conviction. This situation arose because of conflicting reports, one from Al-Bahlul himself addressed to the Court, and another from defense counsel shortly thereafter explaining the detainee's confusion about the status of his case.

Michel Paradis, the primary defense counsel in question, visited Guantanamo again on August 12 and sought a meeting with Al-Bahlul as he did in June, but the detainee declined to meet with him once again.

Defense counsel explain that Al-Bahlul's last instructions to his attorneys were that he wished them to remain "on the field," and Al-Bahlul refused to meet with them until after the D.C. Circuit issues its final ruling in the en banc appeal of his military commission conviction. Counsel once more regrets that in that May meeting, he did not ask Al-Bahlul to memorialize his wishes on paper; he notes that Al-Bahlul requested that JTF-GTMO's Assistant Staff Judge Advocate witness his instructions to the attorneys.

Counsel request that the Court not prejudice Al-Bahlul's case because of their own failure to obtain his wishes put on paper; the presence of the staff judge advocate seemed to suffice as proof of the detainee's directives.