Gitmo Prosecutor Quits, Citing ‘Ethical Qualms’ Over Withheld Evidence

A Guantanamo military prosecutor is quitting because of “ethical qualms” about the system for turning over exculpatory evidence to the defense.

Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, an Army Reserve officer, is seeking to be returned to civilian status. He filed a declaration with the military court explaining his concerns, report the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The Times says the prosecutor’s filing can only be released by a military judge, but the Post quoted from the document.

“My ethical qualms about continuing to serve as a prosecutor relate primarily to the procedures for affording defense counsel discovery,” Vandeveld wrote. “I am highly concerned, to the point that I believe I can no longer serve as a prosecutor at the Commissions, about the slipshod, uncertain ‘procedure’ for affording defense counsel discovery.”

The chief prosecutor at Guantanamo, Army Col. Lawrence Morris, said there are no grounds for ethical qualms. He said Vandeveld resigned because he is disappointed his superiors “didn’t see the wisdom of his recommendations.”

Vandeveld was prosecuting Mohammed Jawad, who is accused of throwing a grenade into a military jeep when he was 16 or 17 years old. The defense lawyer in the case, Maj. David J. R. Frakt, said a second source of disagreement was Vandeveld’s recommendation for a plea agreement that would have allowed Jawad to be released soon, an idea rejected by his superiors.

Frakt told reporters he would seek to have the case dismissed because of “gross government misconduct.”

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.