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Legal debate continues after the first conviction of a Guantánamo detainee

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The first war crimes trial held in the United States since World War II ended this week in a mixed verdict against Yemeni national Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the personal driver of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. After a two-week-long trial and three days of deliberations, the military court in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, convicted Mr. Hamdan of providing material support for terrorism by driving Mr. bin Laden around Afghanistan. In spite of the conviction, legal debate regarding the trial rages on.

Hamdan is the first of as many as 80 Guantanamo detainees expected to be tried for war crimes in the near future.

Critics of the court say the trial did not adhere to American standards of justice and that Hamdan, a chauffeur, was not an important player in Al Qaeda, a view echoed by the presiding judge in the case.

According to Reuters, Hamdan was acquitted of the more serious charge of conspiring with Al Qaeda to kill civilians.

While Hamdan was convicted on five counts of providing material support for terrorism, the judge said the charges duplicated each other and ordered that he be sentenced only for one count, which he summarized as "driving Mr. bin Laden around Afghanistan."

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