Charges dropped for two at Guantanamo

Undated family photo of Omar Khadr who is being detained by United States forces at Guantanamo Bay. The military judge presiding at Khadr's war crimes tribunal dismissed all the charges against the young Canadian on Monday. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Judges in the U.S. war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo dropped all charges against the only two captives facing trial, rulings that could preclude trying any of the 380 prisoners any time soon.

The judges said they lacked jurisdiction under the strict definition of those subject to trial under a law the U.S. Congress drafted last year.

The charges did not affect U.S. authority to hold foreign prisoners at the Guantanamo detention and interrogation camp in southeast Cuba.

But it was the latest setback for the Bush administration’s efforts to put the Guantanamo detainees through some form of judicial process. It was forced to rewrite the rules last year after the U.S. Supreme Court deemed the old tribunals illegal.

Charges were dropped for Omar Khadr, a Canadian captured in a firefight in Afghanistan at age 15. He was accused of killing a U.S. soldier with a grenade and wounding another in a battle at a suspected al Qaeda compound in Afghanistan in 2002.

Charges were also dropped against Salim Ahmed Hamdan of Yemen, who is accused of driving and guarding Osama bin Laden. Hamdan last year won a U.S. Supreme Court challenge that scrapped the first Guantanamo tribunal system.