The Pentagon's war crimes appeals court announced without explanation Friday that the full U.S. Court of Military Commission Review, not a smaller panel, would review the conviction of Osama bin Laden's driver, now free and living in Yemen.
Legal scholars generally consider an appeals court decision to go with ``en banc'' review to signal a case's importance.
A military jury convicted ex-driver Salim Hamdan, now 40, of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism at Guantánamo in August 2008. Prosecutors were stunned, however, when that same jury rejected their call for a 30-year sentence and ordered him to serve just 5 ½ more months.
Hamdan went home to his native Yemen later that year. But Hamdan's military and volunteer civilian defense attorneys appealed. They argue that conspiracy and material support for terrorism were not war crimes at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks -- nor when U.S. troops captured Hamdan two months later in Afghanistan.
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