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TerrorismTorture of USS Cole suspect becomes issue in trial

Published 19 January 2012

At a pretrial hearing, before a Guantanamo Bay military commission, the defense lawyer for one of the accused USS Cole bombers, said his client had been so traumatized by years of torture that he could not meet effectively with lawyers while still shackled

Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, accused USS Cole bomber // Source: presstv.ir

At a pretrial hearing, before a Guantanamo Bay military commission, the defense lawyer for one of the accused USS Cole bombers, said his client had been so traumatized by years of torture that he could not meet effectively with lawyers while still shackled.

Richard Kammen, Abd al Rahim al Nashiri’s defense lawyer, argued that the shackles, attached to al Nashiri’s legs and bolted to the ground, could induce post-traumatic stress disorder in Nashiri as they are similar to the conditions in which interrogators placed a gun to his head and threatened him with a power drill.

Colonel James Pohl, the military judge presiding over the trial, denied Kammen’s request to allow al Nashiri to meet unshackled with his lawyers. Pohl said the request should have been included in the six-page defense motion filed before the hearing, but left the matter open for discussion in a closed session to keep details of al Nashiri’s treatment by interrogators secret.

Al Nashiri was captured in 2002 and held for four years in secret overseas CIA prisons where he was water boarded and subjected to other methods of torture, before he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006. The gun and power drill incident are outlined in a 2004 CIA document released in 2009.

Torture will just infect this trial,” Kammen said. “Evidence obtained by torture, whether it’s obtained in Yemen or other countries, simply is not reliable evidence.”

The chief prosecutor, Brigadier General Mark Martins, maintained that the trial would be “consistent with the fair, transparent and accountable administration of justice under the rule of law.”

Martins was careful to note that the 2009 Military Commissions Act prohibits the use of statements obtained through torture as well as those obtained through cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.

Al Nashiri stands accused of plotting the 2000 suicide bombing of the USS Cole which killed seventeen sailors. He is also accused of taking part in a fatal attack on a French oil tanker in 2002 and an aborted plot against another U.S. warship.

If convicted, al Nashiri could face the death penalty. 

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