Accused Cole bomber skips Gitmo hearing in protest
The Guantanamo prisoner charged in the bombing of the USS Cole is boycotting his pre-trial hearing in the case to protest the way he is brought from his cell to court.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri has told an official at the U.S. base in Cuba that he objects to the use of belly chains. The judge has previously said the 47-year-old prisoner does not have to attend his pre-trial hearings but the prosecution is challenging that ruling.
A Navy official who was not identified for security reasons said the belly chains are used to move prisoners within Guantanamo but would not have been used to move al-Nashiri to court on Tuesday.
Al-Nashiri faces trial in a special tribunal for war-time offences known as a military commission for allegedly orchestrating the bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000 as well as attacks on two other ships. But his lawyers say that since the US wasn`t at war at that time, the 47-year-old shouldn`t be tried at Guantanamo.
"The fact of going to war is a decision by the political branches, either Congress or the president or both," attorney Richard Kammen said yesterday. "It`s not something to be arrived at retroactively by a bureaucrat who is not appointed by Congress because it has huge consequences."
Al-Nashiri`s lawyers say that the US wasn`t at war until after the September 11, 2001, attacks and then-President George W. Bush did not certify the existence of hostilities of any kind in Yemen until September 2003.
The motion for dismissal is one of 21 matters set for consideration at a hearing scheduled to start today at the base, where the U.S. Holds 166 prisoners, most of whom have not been charged with any crime.
The hearing is scheduled to run through Thursday but officials were trying to condense the agenda because of the approach of Tropical Storm Sandy, which was heading north in the Caribbean Sea on a track to reach southeastern Cuba on Thursday.
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