The Work

May 29, 2008 1:41 PM

Covington & Burling partner takes on defense of Guantanamo death penalty case

Posted by Daphne Eviatar

David Remes, a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Covington & Burling, has signed up to defend Ahmed al-Ghailani. Ghailani, who is accused of involvement in the 1998 bombing of the US Embassy in Tanzania that killed 11 and injured hundreds, is one of 14 men the Bush Administration has deemed "high-value detainees". Charges of war crimes by the Office of Military Commissions were referred against him in March.

"Because Al-Ghailani spent over two years in a secret CIA prison, I begin with the premise that anything he's said so far is the product of torture," says Remes, whose firm has approved his involvement in the accused terrorist's defense. Remes still awaits security clearance from the Defense Department. 

As Am Law Daily has previously reported [] defense lawyers have complained of long delays in receiving security clearances. Meanwhile, as The American Lawyer reported in April, the Office of Military Commissions, which must provide each detainee facing military commission charges with a military defense lawyer, does not have enough ABA-qualified death penalty lawyers to defend the high-value detainees accused of capital offenses.

Scott Fenstermaker, a criminal defense lawyer in New York, is also assisting in Al-Ghailani's defense before the military commission, as is University of Oklahoma law school professor Randall Coyne, who assisted in the death penalty defense of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Curiously, Al-Ghailani is under indictment in the Southern District of New York for the same crime the military commission has charged him with. Fenstermaker says the defense team plans to meet with the convening authority for the military commissions to urge her not to pursue the commission's charges against Al-Ghailani because of the parallel charges pending in federal court.

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I congratulate and admire David Remes and Covington and Scott Fenstermaker and Randall Coyne for their work in defense Al Ghailani. It is courageous work, but part of a long and proud tradition of Covington and the American legal system.

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