Guantanamo court ends indictment of terror suspects in Southeast Asia – benarnews
The indictment of three Southeast Asian terrorist suspects before a US military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay ended on Tuesday, but none of the defendants pleaded and their lawyers expressed frustration and doubts about the matter. fairness of the proceedings.
The two-day appearance was the first of Indonesian Encep Nurjaman, better known as Hambali, and Malaysians Mohammed Nazir bin Lep and Mohammed Farik bin Amin since they were locked up at the US Navy base in Cuba 15 years ago. The three were arrested in Thailand in 2003 and sent to secret CIA-run “black sites” before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay military prison in 2006.
Commander Hayes Larsen, the military judge overseeing the case, closed the indictment without setting a timeline for the continuation of the trial after hearing the defendants’ rulings.
“I suspect that what will happen in court is that we are going to be working long hours on the appeals,” lawyer James Hodes, who represents Hambali, told BenarNews by phone shortly after the end of the hearing. .
Hodes and attorneys Christine Funk, who represents bin Amin, and Brian Bouffard, who represents bin Lep, spent much of Monday raising objections about what they called inadequate translations their clients were hearing over the course. of the procedure. Much of Tuesday’s hearing was spent reading the indictment documents against the three.
During the first day of the hearing, defense lawyers also objected that an interpreter who had previously translated for the defense was sitting with the prosecution team. The judge rejected a defense request to remove the translator from the courtroom.
“This is not play time,” Hodes told BenarNews of the objections. “We are all very frustrated.
Joshua Kastenberg, a law professor at the University of New Mexico and a former Air Force judge, said they were right to raise concerns about the interpreter sitting with prosecutors and to record those concerns. .
“It could be an unfair boost in the lawsuit. These are pretty good points and I stress this point, ”he told BenarNews.
He also said defense lawyers were correct in arguing for accurate interpretations of the testimony, calling it fundamental to a proper trial.
The proceedings were broadcast remotely to some reporters covering the arraignment from Fort Meade, a US Army base in Maryland, near Washington. The military asked members of the media attending the hearing at Camp Justice in Guantanamo Bay as well as those watching from Fort Meade not to take photos or videos during the arraignment.
Hambali, bin Lep and bin Amin were in court on both days and could be seen when their lawyers addressed the court – all three wore Western-style clothing on Tuesday after wearing long tunics and loose pants the day before. Since defense attorneys raised fewer objections when reading the affidavits, the defendants were rarely seen on the second day.
Hodes said defense teams had no deadline for the case to resume or when it could be concluded, adding that he and the other lawyers had not received prior evidence from prosecutors.
“It probably won’t be delivered until next year,” he said.
Ahead of the hearing, Funk said defense teams would likely be required to travel extensively to interview witnesses and search for new evidence, the Associated Press reported.
Her client, Bin Amin, is “anxious and anxious to litigate this case and return home,” she said.
“Frankly, after this two-day indictment, I saw no evidence that he would get a fair trial,” Funk said, quoted by AP.
After the arraignment, Bouffard said it was so faulty it would have to be redone, AP reported.
The three suspects, who have been labeled “belligerent unprivileged enemies” more than a dozen times in affidavits, face eight counts, seven of which relate to twin bombings that killed 202 people in Bali in October 2002 – the deadliest terrorist attack in Indonesia to date – and a 2003 bombing of the JW Marriott Hotel in Jakarta.
The eight counts are: conspiracy, murder, attempted murder, grievous bodily harm, terrorism, attacks on civilians, attacks on civilian property and destruction of property.
The conspiracy charge alleges that the three men conspired with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed – the alleged planner of the September 11 attacks in New York and Washington – from August 1996. The Office of Military Commissions has scheduled a pre-hearing for Khalid’s trial from November 1 to 19 at Guantanamo Bay court, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.
Bin Lap and bin Amin also face an after-the-fact accessory charge for allegedly obstructing Hambali’s arrest between October 12, 2002, the date of the Bali bombing, and approximately June 30, 2003, in providing false documents, weapons and funds. while providing transport and accommodation.
Kastenberg said it was unusual for three defendants to be tried together, and due to human nature this could create “guilt by association.”
He also expressed concern that the trial was starting almost two decades after the three were arrested in 2003 and sent to CIA “black sites” before being transferred to Guantanamo Bay, adding that this could affect due process for the accused.
A report released as part of a US Senate investigation into the CIA’s secret overseas prisons network found that the three Southeast Asians were tortured while in captivity in the so- saying black sites.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Hambali and the two Malaysians are among the 39 inmates left at the prison inside the US Navy base. At the height of the US War on Terror, the prison held nearly 800 terrorist suspects from around the world.
The arraignment was due to take place in February but was postponed due to concerns over the coronavirus pandemic.
In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it planned to lay terrorism-related charges against Hambali. In January 2021, eight days after President Joe Biden was sworn in as Commander-in-Chief, the Office of Military Commissions announced that Hambali and the two Malaysians were to be brought to justice in a military tribunal.
The Biden administration, meanwhile, has announced plans to close the military prison.