PDA Q&A: The E-Interview

George Donnini, director and shareholder Butzel Detroit
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George Donnini
George Donnini

DB: WHERE ARE YOU?

GD: Camp Justice at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

DB: WHAT’S GOING ON?

GD: I’m here as a non-governmental organization (NGO) observer on behalf of the American Bar Association. There’s also press, victims’ family members, and representatives of the various nations involved — in this case, Bali and Australia. There are maybe 15 total people observing the pre-trial proceedings for a case involving the 2002 Bali bombing at two nightclubs. (The explosions killed 202 people, 88 of whom were Australians.)

DB: HOW DID YOU GET SELECTED?

GD: I’m involved in the leadership of the ABA, and given my experience as an active-duty Marine judge advocate, I applied, went through the application process, and was ultimately selected to go. September 11 was right in the middle of my active-duty time, and some of these cases involve individuals from September 11.

DB: WHAT’S HAPPENING?

GD: Between 600 and 800 people have gone through the facility since 2006. They all have the terrorist label and were all captured post-9/11. They’re down to 30 now. Ten are charged and the other 20 haven’t been charged, but they’ve been there since 2006. Four of those charged are working through the trial system.

DB: WHAT’S THE TRIAL STATUS?

GD: These folks have been held without trial for over two decades and there’s no resolution, (and) no proof that they did what they’re alleged to have done. It’s a non-capital case, so the maximum punishment is life in prison. These cases take a long time because of the many agencies involved, and they’re very complicated.

DB: WHEN IS THE TRIAL?

GD: There’s talk about a March 2025 trial date, but I think it’s going to be way past that. I think this case will drag out a lot longer than that.