Guantanamo Bay hearing delayed after mysterious disappearance of legal files
Pre-trial hearings in the Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunals have been delayed to address the disappearance of defense legal documents from Pentagon computers, military officials said on Thursday.
A weeklong hearing was scheduled to start on Monday for Abd al Rahim al Nashiri – a Saudi Arabian citizen alleged to be the mastermind of the bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in 2000. The attack killed 17 US soldiers aboard the ship and wounded 37 others.
But the trial has now been pushed back to June 11, the US naval base said in an order on Thursday.
It comes just one day after Nashiri’s lawyer, Ricard Kammen, urged Army Colonel James Pohl – who oversees the war crimes court – to cancel this week’s hearing.
He said that officials mishandled more than 500,000 defense lawyer emails and appear to be monitoring their internet searches as they prepare their cases. Kammen also addressed the disappearance of documents, which he blamed on a Pentagon server failure.
“We want to put the case on hold…to find the scope of the intrusions,” Kammen said in a Wednesday statement quoted by Reuters. “Was this the product of negligence or something worse? Also, we need to have the problem fixed.”
Kammen said he was uncertain when the server failure occurred, but said it involved around seven gigabytes of data, or many thousands of pages or documents. He added that information pertaining to his case and others was recovered, but defense teams still need time to review files to make sure nothing was lost or changed.
Forty-eight year old Nashhiri has been held at Guantanamo for six years and seven months. In February 2008, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) confirmed that waterboarding was used on Nashiri and two other prisoners.
Meanwhile, defense lawyers plan to ask Pohl to delay a week of pre-trial hearings for five detainees charged with plotting the September 11 attacks. The hearings are scheduled to begin on April 22.
The attorneys said their confidential documents began vanishing from Pentagon computers in February, and that there was evidence their internal emails had been searched by third parties.
“Three to four weeks’ worth of work is gone, vanished,” Navy Commander Walter Ruiz, who represents 9/11 defendant Mustafa al Hawsawi, said.
He added that what appeared to be a computer folder of prosecution files had turned up on the defense lawyer’s system, though none of them had opened the files.
Read the full article at: rt.com