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US cancels Guantanamo complex plan
US military cancels plan to build a complex for war-crimes trials at Guantanamo.
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2006 00:03 GMT
Hundreds of detainees remain inside Guantanamo without a court date
The Pentagon will not try to use emergency powers to build a compound to hold war-crimes trials at Guantanamo Bay, according to a member of a Senate panel that oversees funding for military construction projects.
The US defense department notified senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, on Sunday that it cancelled a contract order to build the new courthouse complex at the isolated base in southeast Cuba.

The US defense department said that the cancellation was because of concerns about the location and funds for the facility, according to a statement from Feinstein's office

She said in a statement late on Friday: "I thank the department for postponing plans to build a permanent courthouse at Guantanamo Bay. It's important this courthouse proceed through regular order, with public hearings, so that there is full knowledge of what is intended."

The defense department recently sent a letter to Congress announcing its intention to fast-track the Guantanamo complex by reallocating $102 million of its authorised funds by invoking its emergency powers to bypass congressional approval, according to Feinstein.

A Pentagon spokesman gave no specific details about the cancellation, which was first reported by The Miami Herald on Sunday, but said that due to the scope and complexity of the trials for terror suspects, additional infrastructure and personnel remained a much-needed addition at Guantanamo.

Navy Commandor Jeffrey Gordon said in a Sunday e-mail: "We will continue working with the Congress to ensure that unlawful enemy combatants at Guantanamo can be brought to justice as expeditiously as possible. We do not want a lack of facilities to be a reason for delaying the process of bringing these dangerous enemy combatants to justice."

Among the terror suspects expected to face war crimes trials at Guantanamo are 14 "high-value" detainees who were recently transferred from secret CIA custody. They include Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the suspected mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks and Abu Zubaydah, believed to be a link between Osama bin Laden and many al-Qaida cells.

The proposed compound, designed to accommodate as many as 1200 people, would create a total of three courtrooms on the military base to allow for simultaneous trials, and a separate high-security area to house the detainees facing trial.

Navy Lt. Cammandor Chito Peppler said last month that the government hoped to be ready for trials by July 1 at the compound, which would be one of the biggest upgrades to the Guantanamo detention centre since it began taking in suspected enemy combatants in January 2002.

Source:
Agencies
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