July 18th, 2012 04:00 PM
FORT MEADE, Maryland—Potential jurors in the court martial of US Army Private Bradley Manning will have to respond to more than 100 questions in a pre-trial screening, officials said Tuesday.
Manning, 24, is set to go on trial in September, but a preliminary hearing heard that members of the military panel picked to rule on his fate will face a high level of scrutiny in a bid to weed out unsuitable candidates.
“Not all military members have the same experience… and it is important to know who we are dealing with,” the soldier’s civilian defense attorney David Coombs told the hearing at Fort Meade in Maryland, near the US capital.
Army judge Colonel Denise Lind said 130 questions had been submitted in the screening process, to analyze if there is any significant risk of Manning being a victim of prejudice from the ruling panel, the military equivalent of a jury.
The government contested 52 of the questions on Tuesday, but 23 of those were allowed to stand, ranging from whether would-be jurors’ reading habits included fiction focused on military intelligence, to what voluntary work they undertake.
Manning, who faces life in jail if convicted of the biggest security breach in US history, has not entered a plea in the case but it is likely a panel of at least five and no more than 12 servicemen and women will deliver the verdict.
The full list of questions was not released to reporters covering the hearing but the details emerged in arguments heard in open court.
A member of the prosecution said nine of the questions related to the subject of homosexuality—Manning is gay—but Judge Lind refused the defense team’s request that jurors be asked if they backed gay marriage.