A military court on Wednesday convicted Osama bin Laden's driver of supporting terrorism but acquitted him on the more serious charge of conspiring with al-Qaeda in the first U.S. war crimes trial since World War Two.
The judge at the remote U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay on Cuba scheduled a sentencing hearing for Wednesday afternoon for Salim Hamdan, a Yemeni captured in Afghanistan who now faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Hamdan, wearing a white turban and long white robe topped with a tan blazer, stood tensely in the courtroom beside his lawyers as the verdict was announced, listening through headphones to the English-Arabic interpreter. He raised his hands and wept into them as the guilty verdict was read.
The trial is the first full test of the controversial Guantanamo tribunal authorized by the Bush administration to try non-U.S. captives on terrorism charges outside the regular civilian and military courts.
The jury heard two weeks of testimony, including that of 10 federal agents who interrogated Hamdan without warning him that his confessions would be used against him.
It was the Bush administration's third attempt to try Hamdan, who won a Supreme Court victory that scrapped the first version of the Guantanamo court system. The charges were twice dropped and re-filed.
The charges he was cleared of on Wednesday -- two of conspiring with al-Qaeda to attack civilians, destroy property, commit murder in violation of the laws of war -- were the only charges against him in the first prosecution attempt.
He was convicted on Wednesday of five counts of providing material support for terrorism, specifically that his personal services to al-Qaeda included driving and acting as a bodyguard for a man he knew to be the leader of an international terrorist organization.
The White House said Wednesday that Hamdan had received a "fair trial" after military jurors at Guantanamo Bay rendered a verdict on terrorism charges against him.
"The Military Commission system is a fair and appropriate legal process for prosecuting detainees alleged to have committed crimes against the United States or out interests. We look forward to other cases moving forward to trial," spokesman Tony Fratto said.
Human Rights Watch and other rights groups have slammed the proceedings at the U.S. military installation in Cuba as marred by irregularities and built-in handicaps for the defense, making it impossible for Hamdan to get a fair trial.
The Bush administration set up the special military commissions in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, only to see the U.S. Supreme Court invalidate them in 2006.
The U.S. Congress, under heavy pressure from the White House, restored them a few months later.