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Yemeni Guantanamo detainee dies in apparent suicide

[JURIST] A Yemeni Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainee has been pronounced dead by military officials who believe that he committed suicide, according to Wednesday reports. Muhammad Ahmad Abdallah Salih, also known as al Hanashi, was accused [BBC report] of fighting with the Taliban in Afghanistan. The military maintained that measures were taken to revive al Hanashi after he was found unresponsive in his cell. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] on Wednesday called for [press release] a "full and transparent investigation" into the apparent suicide. Suggesting an immediate and independent investigation into the death and Guantanamo conditions, ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said that:

Tragic deaths like this one have become all too common in a system that locks up detainees indefinitely without charge or trial.

There is no room for a system of indefinite detention without charge or trial under our Constitution. Detainees against whom there is legitimate evidence should be tried in our federal courts – not in the reconstituted military commissions now being proposed. Those against whom there is no legitimate evidence must not be given a de-facto life sentence by being locked up forever.

The ACLU along with Amnesty International, Human Rights First and Human Rights Watch [advocacy websites] sent a letter [text, PDF] to President Barack Obama in January asking for full access to the detention facility [JURIST report] to review the conditions and to offer "concrete recommendations on how to improve conditions of confinement in order to comply with relevant national and international standards." Also in January, former US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld and many other military officers and personnel were sued [JURIST report; complaint, PDF] for the wrongful deaths of two former Guantanamo detainees who committed suicide. Military officials stated that the detainees, including one whose family did not join the suit, hung themselves with nooses made from sheets and clothes in pursuit of martyrdom [JURIST report]. The three had participated in hunger strikes and were among those detainees who had been force-fed [JURIST report].

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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