(Reuters) – A jury of U.S. military officers sentenced Osama bin Laden’s driver to 5 1/2 years in prison on Thursday for providing material support for terrorism.
On Wednesday, Salim Hamdan of Yemen was acquitted on the more serious charge of conspiring with al Qaeda in the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War Two.
Here are some facts about the detention center at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the trials, which have been severely criticized by human rights groups:
– The United States holds about 265 prisoners at Guantanamo and has released or transferred to other governments more than 500 previously held there.
– The first captives arrived at Guantanamo on January 11, 2002.
– Military prosecutors have sought charges against 22 prisoners, and 20 of those cases are still pending. Two prisoners have been convicted at Guantanamo, including Hamdan, who was the first to undergo a complete trial, and Australian David Hicks. Hicks avoided trial by admitting he trained with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and pleading guilty in March 2007 to providing material support for terrorism. He finished his nine-month sentence in Australia on December 29, 2007.
– Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in seven of the pending cases, including those of five men accused of plotting the attacks on the United States using hijacked airliners that killed nearly 3,000 people on September 11, 2001.
– Four Guantanamo prisoners have committed suicide by hanging, three in June 2006 and one in May 2007. The deaths are still under investigation by the Navy Criminal Investigative Service. A fifth prisoner died of colorectal cancer in December 2007, becoming the first to die of natural causes.
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Reuters
(Reporting by Jane Sutton in Miami; Editing by Michael Christie and David Storey)