The Saudi detainee refuses to participate in the military tribunal proceedings against him, which he calls politically motivated.
By Carol J. Williams / April 10, 2008
GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA — A Saudi prisoner Wednesday denounced the war crimes case against him as a politically motivated “sham” and had himself removed from the courtroom in symbolic protest.
Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed Haza Al-Darbi, whose brother-in-law was among the Sept. 11 hijackers, informed the military judge hearing his terrorism conspiracy case that he wanted neither legal representation nor to be present at his trial.
Al-Darbi, 33, has been charged with conspiracy and material support for terrorism for allegedly training with Al Qaeda and plotting to attack ships in the Strait of Hormuz.
Al-Darbi, whose war crimes case is one of seven inching their way toward trial by the military tribunal at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, has yet to enter a plea and made clear he wouldn’t be returning for future sessions.
He arrived in court in the white tunic and blue canvas shoes denoting a compliant detainee and politely told the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, that he did not want to be represented by the military lawyer assigned to his case nor by any civilian attorney.
“History will record these trials as a scandal,” Al-Darbi said. “I advise you, the judge, and everyone else who is present to not continue with this play, this sham.”
Last month, a detainee charged with attempted murder in a grenade attack that wounded two U.S. national guardsmen in Afghanistan also refused to cooperate. Mohammed Jawad, a 23-year-old Afghan who had to be dragged from his cell for a March 12 arraignment, said he would boycott proceedings he considered illegitimate.
Pretrial hearings have begun for two other defendants, and three await arraignment, including another one this week.
Prosecutors have announced their intentions to try seven other Guantanamo prisoners but have yet to serve them with the war crimes charges announced as long as two months ago. Among those awaiting activation are the capital cases against self-professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and five others accused of roles in those attacks.
The Army lawyer assigned to defend Al-Darbi, Lt. Col. Bryan Broyles, is required by the military tribunal’s rules to represent the absent defendant anyway.
But Broyles said he would seek guidance from his bar association in Kentucky, as well as from the Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps, on whether ethical standards would prohibit his representation of a client who doesn’t want him.
Broyles faces a dilemma if he is ordered by the judge to defend Al-Darbi and advised by legal ethicists against an active role. “There’s every possibility that I’ll end up being a potted plant,” Broyles said.
In his brief address to Pohl, Al-Darbi repeated claims that he had been abused while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan.
Broyles told journalists last month that he’d been told by Al-Darbi that an Army counterintelligence specialist had beaten him and left him hanging from handcuffs during interrogations at Bagram air base, north of the capital, Kabul. Broyles indicated that any trial of his client would probably be bogged down in procedural wrangling for months.
Al-Darbi has never been determined to be an unlawful enemy combatant, a necessary step before the tribunal can claim jurisdiction in the case.
None of the allegations against Al-Darbi tie him to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. His brother-in-law, Khalid Almihdhar, was one of the five hijackers who commandeered American Airlines Flight 77 and plowed it into the Pentagon.
Source. / LA Times / The Rag Blog
“Lord of the Rings” confiscated at Guantanamo
By Jane Sutton / April 11, 2008
GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba – Guards seized a copy of the “Lord of the Rings” screenplay and a box of legal papers from a young Canadian facing trial at Guantanamo, prompting harsh words between his military defence lawyer and a spokesman for the detention operation.
The exchange, which took place over Wednesday and Thursday, came as 21-year-old Canadian captive Omar Khadr faced another pretrial hearing in the U.S. war court that has charged him with murdering a U.S. soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan in 2002.
Khadr’s hearing at the remote U.S. naval base in southeastern Cuba was postponed from Thursday to Friday by mutual consent of the prosecution and defence, a spokesman for the Pentagon office overseeing the trials said.
Khadr’s military lawyer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. William Kuebler, told journalists that guards had seized a box of legal documents lawyers had given Khadr to review, returning only the empty box.
“He can’t even look at materials he needs to look at in order to help us defend him,” Kuebler complained, adding that rules for what prisoners facing trial can keep in their cells were constantly changing.
The spokesman for the joint task force that runs the detention centre rolled his eyes as Kuebler spoke and later disparaged his comments.
Guards are required to search detainees’ possessions for contraband and seized the box of documents because it contained items Khadr was not permitted to have, including the “Lord of the Rings” script, pictures and Internet news articles, the spokesman, Lt. Col. Ed Bush said.
“Materials considered to be related to detainee Khadr’s case have been returned with a stamp that will avoid any future confusion about the nature of the materials,” Bush said in a statement.
He said the screenplay had been returned to Kuebler “as a violation of the prohibition against providing detainees materials that are not directly related to his representation of his client.”
Kuebler said he had given Khadr the screenplay to help build rapport with him, noting that interrogators were permitted to give prisoners food and other gifts to develop their relationship and promote trust and information-sharing.
The exchange highlighted tensions between military defence lawyers, who have been among the loudest critics of the Guantanamo court, and authorities at the detention camp in southeastern Cuba.
The lawyers have complained that prison rules impede their efforts to put on an effective defence, while some in the detention operation have accused the lawyers of lying about
Source. / Reuters / The Rag Blog
Also see Guantanamo lawyer questions how U.S. soldier died.
For more facts about Guantanamo prison, go here.