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Supreme Ct. to Hear Iraq Detention Case

Posted Dec 7, 2007 7:43 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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The U.S. Supreme Court agreed today to decide whether American citizens held in Iraq by a coalition of military forces have a right to have their cases heard in federal court under habeas corpus principles.

Solicitor general Paul Clement argues that they do not, because they are being held by multinational coalition forces rather than the U.S. military. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit decided in a 2-1 ruling concerning Shawqi Ahmad Omar that such American citizens held on foreign soil do have a right to a federal court hearing, upholding a lower court order that blocked his transfer to Iraqi authorities for prosecution. However, in a different case decided by a different panel of judges that lawyers for Mohammed Munaf say presents the same question, the D.C. Circuit held that Munaf had no right to a court hearing because he had already been convicted of a crime in Iraq (and sentenced to death). Now the Supreme Court will decide the issue, reports Bloomberg.

The appeal consolidates two cases: Munaf v. Geren, No. 06-1666, and Geren v. Omar, No. 07-394.

It raises, according to a brief filed in one of them by Clement, "questions of exceptional importance concerning the separation of powers, the nation's conduct of foreign and military affairs, and the sovereign prerogative of foreign nations to try individuals for the commission of criminal offenses within their own borders," reports the Washington Post.

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