Guantanamo panel recommends 23-year sentence for two men in connection with 2002 Bali attacks


WASHINGTON (AP) — A military panel at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Friday recommended 23 years of detention for two Malaysian men. Deadly bombings of 2002 In Bali, a spokesman for the military commission said.

The recommendation, which follows guilty pleas earlier this month for longtime Guantanamo detainees Mohammed Farik bin Amin and Mohammed Nazir bin Lape, marks a comparatively rare conviction in two decades of proceedings by a U.S. military commission at Guantanamo.

Ronald Fleisvig, spokesman for the Guantanamo military commission, confirmed the sentencing recommendations.

extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah Two bomb blasts near the resort island of Bali killed 202 Indonesians, foreign tourists and others almost simultaneously during the night.

Both defendants denied any role in or advance knowledge of the attacks, but admitted under plea deals that they had conspired with the network of responsible terrorists for years. The sentencing recommendation still requires approval from Guantanamo’s senior military authority.

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The two are among a total of 780 detainees brought into military custody at Guantanamo as part of the George W. Bush administration’s “War on Terror” following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. Only a few people have been convicted over the years. – Eight, according to an advocacy group, Reprieve.

Defendants in some of the largest attacks, including 9/11, remain in pre-trial hearings. Prosecutors are seeking a negotiated settlement to drop that case and some others.

The prosecution has been plagued by logistical difficulties, frequent movements of judges and others, and legal questions related to the torture of detainees during CIA custody in the first years of detention.

Only about 30 prisoners remain in Guantanamo. About half have been cleared and are eligible for transfer if a stable country agrees to take them.

As part of their plea bargain, two Malaysian men have agreed to testify against the third Guantanamo detainee in the Bali bombings, an Indonesian man known only as Hambali.

As relatives of some of those killed in the Bali bombings testified at a pre-sentencing hearing on Wednesday, both accused were in the courtroom and listened attentively.

Matthew Arnold of Birmingham, England, who lost his brother in the attacks, testified, “The reach of this atrocity knew no bounds, and it has affected so many people.”

A panel of five military officers recommended sentencing after hearing testimony.

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