In a major blow to the Bush administration, the US Supreme Court has ruled that the American President overstepped his authority in creating military tribunals for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay. The landmark decision is set to heighten calls for the prison camp in Cuba to be closed down.
Giving its judgement in the case of a Yemeni detainee who challenged the hearings, the court ruled the military trial of Salim Ahmed Hamdan, who was said to be Osama bin Laden’s driver in Afghanistan, cannot proceed because it violates the Geneva Conventions.
“This is one of the most important decisions of the term because this decision is going to have an impact on our international relations, how other countries are viewing America and how we treat prisoners of war,” said Timothy Lynch, of the Washington-based think tank The Cato Institute.
“It’s going to have an impact on our military law. Even lawyers within the Pentagon are concerned about the precedent that this will set,” he added.
Human rights groups, the United Nations and foreign governments have all sharply criticised the Guantanamo Bay detention centre, which currently holds around 450 prisoners.