Widener Law Graduate to Serve as Trial Judge for 9/11 War Crimes Trial
Web Editor - Published: June 24, 2008


"This commissions courtroom at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is the site of the commissions proceedings until the Expeditionary Legal Complex is completed later in 2008. At that time, commissions proceedings, including impending trials such as the future prosecution for war crimes of Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza al Darbi, will transfer to the new site. (Photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Patrick Thompson)" source: wikimedia commons


"The newly-constructed ‘Red Bull’ sign welcomes visitors to Camp Justice and the nearby Expetitionary Legal Complex. Tech Sgt. Bob Gagnon, Tech Sgt. Patrick Searles, Master Sgt. Scott Flowers and Tech. Sgt. Richard Minor worked diligently designing and building the sign, its base and the surrounding landscape." source: wikimedia commons

In March of 2007, the Office of Military Commissions appointed Marine Colonel Ralph H. Kohlmann ‘87 Chief Judge of the Military Commissions Trial Judiciary at the Naval Base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Kohlmann is slated to serve as the trial judge in the capital murder case brought against five Guantánamo detainees accused as conspirators in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed.

The detainees were arraigned on June 5th, 2008, and the next session in the case is currently scheduled for July 10, 2008. In addition to Mohammed, the other four men charged include Waleed bin Attash, who allegedly ran an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan where two of the Sept. 11 hijackers were trained, Ramzi bin al Shibh, a Yemeni who is said to have helped find flight schools for the hijackers, Ammar al Baluchi, and Mustafa Ahmad al Hawsawi. Charges against the five men include conspiring in the September 11th attacks, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, and providing material support for terrorism.

A recent Supreme Court ruling granting all 270 detainees at the Guantánamo Naval Base the right to challenge their detentions through habeas corpus petitions, called into question whether or not the trial will go forward. The Bush administration has, however, declared that the trials will go forward despite the Supreme Court’s decision.

A native of New Jersey, Colonel Kohlmann received a Bachelor of Science from the United States Naval Academy before attending the Delaware School of Law at Widener University, where both he and his wife, Lynneth Ann, earned their Juris Doctor degrees, graduating in 1987. Kohlmann also received a Master of Law in Military Law from the Judge Advocate General’s School in 1994 and a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the United States Naval War College in 2002. A military judge since 1998, he was appointed as a judge in the first military commission system created to try Guantánamo detainees before it was struck down by the Supreme Court. When Congress created the new military commission system in March of 2007, he was appointed Chief Judge. Kohlmann’s duties for the Military Commissions are in addition to his regular appointment as Circuit Judge of the Eastern Judicial Circuit of the Navy-Marine Corps Trial Judiciary seated in Camp Lejeune, NC.