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Page last updated at 21:31 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Ex-Guantanamo men home in Bosnia

Mr Boudella's wife and daughter await his arrival at Sarajevo airport
Mr Boudella's wife and daughter await his arrival at Sarajevo airport

Three Algerian-born former inmates of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp have returned to their adopted homeland of Bosnia.

They had been held without charge for seven years on suspicion of plotting to attack the US embassy in Sarajevo.

But last month a US judge ordered their release - the first such decision since the Supreme Court ruled inmates could challenge their detention.

Some 250 detainees remain at Guantanamo Bay, suspected of links to terrorism.

The men - Mustafa Ait Idir, Mohamed Nechla and Hadj Boudella - were among six Algerians arrested in Bosnia in the weeks following the 11 September 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

They were transferred to the US camp at Guantanamo Bay in southern Cuba in January 2002 and held as "unlawful enemy combatants".

Judicial order

The men were initially accused of plotting to bomb the US embassy in Sarajevo, but these allegations were dropped.

US authorities also accused the men of planning to go to Afghanistan to link up with Taleban and al-Qaeda fighters.

But last month, a US judge ruled that the government had failed to make a case for holding five of the six men.

They brought the case following a decision in June by the US Supreme Court to allow detainees to challenge their imprisonment in civilian courts.

The US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
Many of the Guantanamo inmates are fighting their detention in court

Three of the men have been flown to Sarajevo. They will be released from protective custody once their identities are confirmed, a lawyer for the men said.

It is not clear when the other two men, who do not hold Bosnian citizenship, will be released.

About 250 detainees accused of terrorism or links to al-Qaeda remain in the controversial detention camp in Cuba. Many of them are now in the process of challenging their detention.

US President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close down Guantanamo Bay once he takes office in January.



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