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Gitmo Courts Impose Lighter Than Expected Sentences

Posted Mar 5, 2012 9:17 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Military commissions at Guantanamo have been criticized for lacking protections, but so far they have imposed lighter than expected sentences in six out of seven cases.

The sentences were more lenient than those often handed out in civilian courts for similar offenses, the Associated Press reports. As one example, the story cites the case of Canadian youth Omar Khadr, who was 15 years old when he was captured in Afghanistan. His sentence was capped at eight years in a plea bargain, though he could have received a life sentence. He could be returned to Canada, where some expect him to be quickly freed.

Critics, however, point out that many detainees will never be tried. The article quotes Zachary Katznelson, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union. "The federal courts offer something the military commissions do not: true due process," he said.

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