Global Politics

Bradley Manning Wikileaks Pre-Trial Hearing Ends

The pre-trial hearing of alleged Wikileaks source Bradley Manning has concluded after lawyers made their closing statements.

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An investigating officer at Fort Meade military base in Maryland must now advise if he should face court-martial.

A decision is due in January, but could be delayed if more time is requested.

Arun Rath of our partner program FRONTLINE has been following the hearing.

Bradley Manning's Article 32 hearing – essentially a pre-trial that determines the need for a court-martial – was an odd, stop-start affair, punctuated by frequent, long recesses and disputes over evidence and witnesses.

Manning's lead lawyer, Iraq war veteran and retired JAG officer David Coombs, led an aggressive defense, which began with his turning the usually pro-forma opening session into an extended debate on the impartiality of the investigating officer, Lt. Col Paul Almanza. (In an Article 32 hearing, the investigating officer essentially acts as the presiding judge.)

It was as if a judge were being cross-examined by a defense attorney, as Coombs grilled the investigating officer on his career as a prosecutor and work for the Department of Justice.

The debate was fruitless: The investigating officer decides whether or not to recuse himself, and after a day of hearing arguments about his alleged bias, Lt. Col. Almanza announced his decision to stay on.

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