USS Cole bomber seeks release if acquitted

The defence for the main suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole, who goes before a judge, wants him freed if he is acquitted.

Last Updated: Oct 25, 2011, 14:14 PM IST

Washington: The defence for the main suspect
in the bombing of the USS Cole, who goes before a judge for
the first time next month in Guantanamo, wants him freed if he
is acquitted, says a newly released document.

Saudi-born Abd al-Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al-Nashiri, 46,
is set to appear November 9 at the military tribunal on the US
naval base in south eastern Cuba.

He allegedly planned and prepared the October 2000 attack
on the US Navy destroyer in Yemen`s port of Aden that killed
17 sailors and wounded 40 more.

In a document released by the Pentagon yesterday, lawyers
for the Saudi are asking if he is able to be "meaningfully
acquitted" or "if at the conclusion of this proceeding, the
United States intends to hold the defendant, even if
acquitted."

The defense wants a response delivered at the hearing
November 9 at which he was supposed to be charged.

"In a variety of contexts, officials in the United
States, including the president, have suggested that no matter
what the outcome of the trials in Guantanamo, individuals such
as Al-Nashiri will not be released because he is allegedly a
terrorist," the attorneys` statement reads in part.

"If the government intends to hold him in perpetuity
regardless of the outcome, the sentence of death is the only
result that changes anything," they added.

"A trial, to be meaningful to society and the defendant,
must hold the possibility of both punishment and reprieve for
the accused," the defense lawyers stressed.

US military prosecutors also accuse Nashiri of plotting
an attempted strike on USS The Sullivans in Aden in January
2000, and an attack on a French civilian oil tanker MV Limburg
in the Gulf of Aden in 2002 that killed a Bulgarian crew
member and spilled 90,000 barrels of oil.

It is the first new capital case to go to trial at
Guantanamo`s "war on terror" tribunal since President Barack
Obama took office in 2009, and Nashiri`s first public
appearance since his detention seven years earlier.

According to documents released in 2009, interrogators
submitted Nashiri to dozens of waterboarding sessions.

Foreign governments and rights groups have condemned the
simulated drowning technique as torture -- and US authorities
have since prohibited the practice -- but waterboarding was
approved by Justice Department authorities at the time.

At a closed hearing in 2007, Nashiri said he confessed to
the USS Cole bombing, which blew a 10-by-10-metre hole in the
ship, because he was subjected to torture.

PTI