GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - The prosecutor in a Guantanamo war crimes case has asked to quit his assignment due to ethical concerns, defence attorneys and the lead military prosecutor said yesterday.
The departure would make at least four Guantanamo prosecutors who have left with misgivings about the fairness of the process, which has drawn international criticism as inhumane and unjust.
Army Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld gave notice within the last few weeks that he wanted to quit the prosecution team early and cited "personal reasons," Col. Lawrence Morris, the Guantanamo military commissions chief prosecutor, told reporters.
The request was accepted and Vandeveld is winding down his involvement with the commission, Morris said.
Vandeveld was prosecuting Afghan murder suspect Mohammed Jawad and the case will go on, Morris said.
Morris acknowledged a defence affidavit in which, lawyers said, Vandeveld described concerns including that prosecutors withheld evidence that could help the accused.
"There are no grounds for his ethical qualms," Morris said. "All you have is somebody who is disappointed that his superiors didn't see the wisdom of his recommendations in the case."
Jawad's lawyer, air force Maj. David Frakt, said he has asked the court to let Vandeveld testify in support of motions asking that the case be dismissed on the grounds of "outrageous government conduct."
But prosecutors oppose the testimony. "There is nothing he has to say that is relevant in our view," Morris said. Vandeveld declined through a commission representative to comment.
Jawad is charged in the Guantanamo tribunal with throwing a grenade into a U.S. military jeep at a bazaar in Kabul in December 2002, injuring two U.S. soldiers and their Afghan interpreter. He was 16 or 17 when Afghan police arrested him and turned him over to U.S. forces.