Alleged 9/11 conspirator kicked out of Guantanamo hearing again

Reuters News
Posted: Dec 17, 2013 1:16 PM

By Lacey Johnson

FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - An accused conspirator in the September 11, 2001, attacks on New York and Washington was for the second day in a row expelled from a courtroom at the Guantanamo Bay war crimes tribunal on Wednesday for being disruptive.

"I have to leave. I want to leave," Ramzi Binalshibh, one of five defendants in the death-penalty case, exclaimed at the start of the pretrial hearing.

Binalshibh, who is from Yemen and who is accused of wiring money to September 11 hijackers and passing information to key al Qaeda operatives, was twice expelled from the courtroom on Tuesday for making outbursts about poor prison conditions and noises keeping him awake in his cell at night.

"I told you. I asked you to stop these noises - vibrations," Binalshibh said to the presiding judge, Army Colonel James Pohl.

"Mr. Binalshibh, we are not going through this every day," replied Pohl.

Binalshibh continued to shout and was ordered out of the courtroom for the remainder of the morning session.

Guantanamo Bay's warden, Army Colonel John Bogdan, was questioned for more than an hour by defense counsel about his denials of special requests for attorney-client visits at the prison.

Cheryl Bormann, defense attorney for suspected al Qaeda training camp leader Walid Binattash, said inconvenient flight schedules and limited meeting hours at the prison had interfered with her ability to defend her client.

The hearing at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba was monitored by Reuters over a closed-circuit broadcast at the Fort Meade, Maryland, army base.

The U.S. military has identified the defendants as "high-value detainees" who played key roles in plotting the September 11 attacks, which killed about 3,000 people, destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City and damaged the Pentagon in Washington.

The five defendants are alleged al Qaeda conspirators who could be executed if convicted of charges that include mass murder, terrorism and hijacking.

The defendants were captured in 2002 and 2003 and were first charged at Guantanamo in 2008. The tribunals and the charges were revised by the Obama administration, and the defendants were arraigned on the current charges in May 2012.

(Editing by Scott Malone and Jonathan Oatis)