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9/11 defendant leaves Guantánamo hearing, citing 'psychological torture'

Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, one of five 9/11 defendants at the military commission trial at Guantánamo, told the judge that problems with the food amounted to torture by the military guards.

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Lt. Cmdr. Bogucki said that when Bin al-Shibh tried to cite the judge’s order to military guards after the ruling was issued, he was told they knew nothing of such an order.

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When Bogucki confronted camp officials about the matter, he said he was told: “This is not a judge issue, this is our issue,” and “if you don’t like it, file a motion.”

The defense lawyer told the judge that detention camp officials showed a “complete lack of respect for your order.” He said based on reports from his client, the harassing activity was both ongoing and retaliatory.

Judge Pohl said that the first time the complaints of noises and vibrations were brought to his courtroom, government lawyers suggested that perhaps the noises and vibrations existed only in Bin al-Shibh’s mind.

“My client suffers from no such delusional disorder,” Bogucki replied.

Pohl said that the appropriate response would be for defense lawyers to contact the camp commander and raise the issue directly with him.

“The camp commander is part of the problem,” Bogucki said. “The quotes I gave you were from the camp commander.”

The lawyer added: “This is a case unprecedented in American history given the treatment that these men have had, so we do have to proceed in some manner.”

All five of the defendants were held for years in secret custody by the Central Intelligence Agency where they were subjected to prolonged and harsh interrogation techniques. Those techniques included sleep deprivation and sensory deprivation combined with prolonged exposure to loud noises.

A spokesman for the detention camp at Guantánamo denied the existence of any significant problem between Bin al-Shibh and the guards.

“A freshly-prepared standard detainee halal meal was provided to the defendant by the Joint Task Force during the lunch recess. The defendant complained that his lunch did not include condiments such as olives and honey,” US Navy Capt. Robert Durand, Director of Public Affairs, Joint Task Force Guantánamo, said in a statement.

All five defendants are facing a military tribunal on charges that they helped plan and/or help with logistics in the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks that left nearly 3,000 dead. If convicted they face the death penalty.

At a hearing on Monday, another defendant, Walid Bin Attash, complained that he was too ill to remain in the courtroom.

His lawyer said he wanted to remain present during the hearing, but that a stomach condition was too painful. The judge called an early recess to the public portion of the hearing.

It was not clear what might happen if Mr. Bin Attash was still feeling sick on Tuesday but did not want to waive his right to be present. That issue did not arise since Bin Attash told a detention camp official early Tuesday that he did not want to attend that day’s court hearing.

The pre-trial hearings are set to continue through Friday.

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