Split verdict in first Guant

A military jury convicts Osama bin Laden's former driver on a charge of supporting terrorism, but acquits him of conspiracy.

Published August 6, 2008 2:54PM (EDT)

After eight hours of deliberation, a six-member military jury has returned the first verdict in the military commissions being held at Guantánamo Bay. Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a former driver for Osama bin Laden, was found guilty of providing material support for terrorism but was acquitted of a conspiracy charge.

Hamdan, who reportedly wept as the verdict was read, could face life in prison; a sentencing hearing has been scheduled for later on Wednesday. Even if he had been acquitted he would still have been detained as an enemy combatant, at least temporarily, a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday.

Defense lawyers were expecting a guilty verdict. They contend the system has been set up to deliver convictions, and have been discussing appeals. In a statement, the defense said, "History and world opinion will judge whether the government proved the system to be fair."

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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