WASHINGTON (AFP) – A military judge halted a hearing at Guantanamo on Monday after defendants accused of the September 11, 2001 attacks complained that a 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 at the controversial US prison.
“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.
“This is a scenario that concerns my client gravely. He was visibly shaken today. I want to get to the bottom of it.”
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 September 11.
100032 GMT FEB 15