USS Cole suspect defiant

2012-10-23 22:42
USS Cole (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis, file)

USS Cole (AP Photo/Dimitri Messinis, file)

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Fort Meade - The main suspect in the USS Cole bombing on Tuesday refused to attend a court hearing at the US naval base in Guantanamo, Cuba to protest having to wear chains.

Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the deadly October 2000 attack, refused to attend the hearing "to protest the use of chains," a prison official told the military court.

When the prisoner was summoned about 10:30 GMT on Tuesday, the official said he wrote a sentence in Arabic refusing his right to be present at the proceedings, according to the retransmission of the proceedings at a Maryland base.

The officer, who was not identified, said the suspect opposed using "belly chains to transport to court".

Defence attorney Captain Stephen Reese said "he was to be chained to be brought to court. He wanted to attend but he refused".

Judge Colonel James Pohl said the suspect had "knowingly, voluntarily waived his right to be present" and chief prosecutor Brigadier General Mark Martins said that rules governing the special military tribunals make "no mention of his right of absence anywhere."

Nashiri, 47, allegedly an associate of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been in US custody since 2002.

The United States is seeking the death penalty against Nashiri, accused of directing the attack on the Cole that left 17 sailors dead.

Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the suicide attack off the coast of Yemen, in which militants drove an explosives-laden skiff into the side of the Cole, blowing a 10-by-10m hole in the destroyer.

Nashiri is also accused of being behind a 2002 attack on the French oil tanker MV Limburg that killed one person.

The proceedings were monitored by journalists and relatives of some of the victims via a live closed-circuit feed in Fort Meade, Maryland, near Washington.

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