Disruptive 9/11 suspect ejected from Guantanamo courtroom

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:43pm EDT

An ankle shackle used by prisoners during meetings with their lawyers is seen on the floor of the conference room at Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 5, 2013. REUTERS/Bob Strong

An ankle shackle used by prisoners during meetings with their lawyers is seen on the floor of the conference room at Camp VI, a prison used to house detainees at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, March 5, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Bob Strong

Related Topics

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - An accused September 11 conspirator was hustled out of the Guantanamo war crimes courtroom on Monday when he refused to stop shouting during a chaotic hearing that was cut short because one of the lawyers was ill.

"I have the right to talk!" Yemeni defendant Ramzi Binalshibh yelled in English.

After he ignored repeated warnings to be quiet, the judge ejected Binalshibh for disruptive conduct and guards in camouflage uniforms escorted him out of the courtroom at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba.

The judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, was questioning the five defendants about whether they understood their right to be present in court in order to assist in their defense.

Binalshibh and the alleged mastermind of the hijacked planes plot, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, responded with complaints about restrictions imposed during their meetings with lawyers.

The judge said he would deal with that issue later. Mohammed eventually relented but Binalshibh persisted, complaining loudly of sleep deprivation, among other things.

"You cannot make me stop talking," he yelled at the judge.

"Remove him now," the judge ordered after several warnings. The exchange continued as three guards led Binalshibh away out of microphone range but the judge appeared to have the last word: "Yes I can."

Court was recessed about 20 minutes after it started so ailing defense lawyer Cheryl Bormann could go to the hospital emergency room.

Bormann, who represents Yemeni defendant Walid bin Attash, was hoarse and barely able to speak. Her doctor ordered bed rest and court was adjourned until 9 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.

The judge was expected to decide this week whether to halt pretrial hearings in the slow-moving case until early next year to allow time to fix ongoing problems with the Pentagon computer system.

At a hearing in August, defense lawyers said their emails and work files were vanishing and that prosecutors and defense lawyers had temporarily been given access to each other's files.

Pentagon technicians were scheduled to testify this week about the extent of the problems and how much time and money it would take to fix.

Technical advisers have said it would take at least three months once a contract was signed and money allocated.

The five defendants are alleged al Qaeda conspirators who could be executed if convicted of charges that include mass murder, terrorism and hijacking.

The defendants were captured in 2002 and 2003 and were first charged at Guantanamo in 2008. The tribunals and the charges were revised by the Obama administration and the defendants were arraigned on the current version in May 2012.

A week after the United States observed the 12th anniversary of the hijacked plane attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, the chief prosecutor, Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, said he sympathized with those who have grown frustrated that the trial still had not started.

He said the case was complex and the court was methodically working its way through the litigation.

"I want this thing to move. Justice delayed at some point really is justice denied," Martins told journalists at the Guantanamo base on Sunday.

"I feel the impatience of those who want it to move faster. That said, we don't want to rush to failure and we want to do justice, not set some sort of standard that's based purely on speed."

(Editing by Kevin Gray, Doina Chiacu and Vicki Allen)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (3)
emu wrote:
In the words of Pentagon general counsel William Haynes:
“Wait a minute, we can’t have acquittals. If we’ve been holding these guys for so long, how can we explain letting them get off? We can’t have acquittals. We’ve got to have convictions.”

So much for the right to a fair trial.

Sep 16, 2013 4:01am EDT  --  Report as abuse
ballsy wrote:
Just put a bullet in their head and call it a day……will ya? Too much expense to keep these rats alive for a “fair” trial…..

Sep 16, 2013 11:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JamVee wrote:
It seems many such problems could be avoided if all such prisoners were accorded the exact same rights that they would have if they were being held and prosecuted on their home turf. I’m sure they would be treated much better in a Yemini prison and court . . . YOU BET!

Sep 16, 2013 11:34am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.