US Judge To Consider Blocking First Guantanamo Trial

WASHINGTON — A federal judge in Washington could decide Thursday whether to halt the first Guantanamo Bay war-crimes trial, scheduled to begin Monday.

District Judge James Robertson has scheduled a hearing on an appeal by Osama bin Laden’s former driver, Salim Hamdan. Earlier, a military judge gave a green light for Hamdan to be tried under the special military system set up for the terror suspects being held at Guantanamo.

The U.S. Supreme Court last month ordered the Bush administration to let detainees challenge their detention in civilian court. That prompted Hamdan to ask Judge Robertson to delay his military trial. He’s also challenging his enemy combatant status and argues that he can’t be tried by the military until the challenge plays out.

Government lawyers say putting the proceeding on hold now would hamper the war on terror and be a significant intrusion on the powers of the president.