Interpreter's alleged CIA prison links stall 9/11 case

2015-02-10 08:12
Ramzi Binalshibh confers with his lawyer during pretrial hearings at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba. (File, AP)

Ramzi Binalshibh confers with his lawyer during pretrial hearings at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base in Cuba. (File, AP)

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Washington - A military judge halted a hearing at Guantanamo after defendants accused of the 9/11 attacks complained that the court interpreter had worked in the CIA's secret prisons.

Ramzi Binalshibh, one of the five accused, was the first to object to the interpreter's presence in the court room.

"The problem is I cannot trust him because he was working at the black site with the CIA and we know him from there," Binalshibh told Judge James Pohl.

Cheryl Bormann, a lawyer for defendant Walid bin Attash, chimed in: "Judge, we have exactly the same issue.

"My client relayed to me this morning that there is somebody in this courtroom who was participating in his illegal torture," she said.

In the end, objections to the interpreter's presence were raised by lawyers for four of the defendants, including accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

After several minutes, Pohl halted the proceedings until early Wednesday, to allow time for closed-door discussions on the matter.

It was the first pre-trial hearing in the 9/11 case since August. No trial date has been set yet.

The five accused have not appeared before the military court since the release in December of a redacted summary of a Senate report detailing the torture to which some of them were subjected while being held at the secret CIA prisons.

Among other things, the report said Mohammed underwent waterboarding, a form of simulated drowning, 183 times during his confinement in the secret prisons.

He faces a possible death penalty if found guilty of the deaths of nearly 3 000 people killed in the attacks on 11 September 2001.

Read more on:    cia  |  khalid sheikh mohammed  |  9/11 attacks

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