Prison evidence at issue in 9-11 trial
Defense lawyers for the five accused 9-11 conspirators petitioned a US military judge at Guantánamo Bay on Jan. 28 to preserve the prisons where the defendants were held as evidence. The defendants claim that they were tortured during their time held in secret CIA prisons. This is one of the many issues that are set to be litigated when pretrial hearings begin Monday at the war crimes tribunal taking place at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba. Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, accused of planning the 9-11 attacks, is among those set to stand trial. Lawyers for the defendants have requested documents from the White House and Justice Department that authorized the CIA to move suspected al-Qaeda members across borders after 9-11 and keep them in secret prisons for interrogations. Defense lawyers will argue that the defendants were subjected to illegal pre-trial punishment. The prosecution maintains that it will not use any information in trial that was obtained through torture or other techniques that violate US or international law.
Last week the US Department of Defense announced that it will not withdraw charges of conspiracy against the five accused plotters of the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Earlier in January the chief US military judge at Guantanamo Bay denied defense motions filed in both the 9-11 military commission trial and the 2000 USS Cole bombing trial. Defense counsel for accused 9-11 conspirators filed a motion requesting that the court find that the US constitution was "presumed to apply" in the proceedings, and that the prosecution must bear the burden of proving that any particular provision did not apply. Colonel James Pohl ruled that the request presented a nonjusticiable issue because the Commission cannot rule on hypothetical legal questions that do not aver "real and substantial controversy admitting of specific relief" relating to actual historical fact. In a separate case, counsel for accused USS Cole bomber, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri filed a motion to dismiss alleged violations of the Military Commissions Act in August 2012 on grounds that the bombing occurred "prior to the commencement of hostilities" between the US and al-Qaeda.
From Jurist, Jan. 28. Used with permission.
Obama closes office dedicated to closing Gitmo
From the New York Times, Jan. 29:
Defense lawyers gain access to secret Gitmo detention area
The judge presiding over the 9-11 military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay has granted defense lawyers access for the first time to Camp 7, the secret facility where detainees are housed. In an order Feb. 19 that remains classified, Army Col. James Pohl allowed lawyers for the five detainees to spend 12 hours during one visit to Camp 7. The lawyers requested 48 hours with the detainees inside the camp and to be allowed multiple visits. Although Pohl only allowed the lawyers limited access to Camp 7, James Connell, a lawyer for detainee Ali Abdul Aziz Ali said that Pohl's decision is a positive step, as it helps lawyers gather more information about their clients.
From Jurist, Feb. 22. Used with permission.