Hearings in Sept. 11 Case Could Resume Despite Unresolved Issues

A military judge is considering whether to reopen the Sept. 11 trial despite two potential hurdles: Prosecutors are still waiting to hear from the Biden administration about a proposed plea deal. And by the order of the court, it is being examined whether one of the defendants, Ramzi bin Al-SheibWise enough to face the charges.

Prosecutors have since adjourned the case. Request conversation started one year ago. But in a recent order, Judge Col. Matthew N. McCall invited prosecutors and lawyers for all five defendants to suggest what issues could be addressed at a July hearing at Guantanamo Bay.

In April, the judge ordered the appointment of a panel of three mental health experts to investigate whether Mr. Bin al-Sheib “suffers from any mental illness or disorder that renders him unfit to stand trial.” mentally incapacitating.” The report is due on July 13.

A finding of incompetence would disqualify Mr. Bin Alsheib from pleading guilty or prosecuting. This could lead to a judicial inquiry to determine what mental health providers can do to restore his competency, including possibly forcing him to take more aggressive psychotropic medication.

A diagnosis is being made at a time A clear international concern More than the Pentagon’s capacity to provide complex health care at a prison in southeastern Cuba. Last month, the chief of the Washington office of the International Red Cross issued a rare statement Declaring that the 30 inmates’ “physical and mental health needs are growing and becoming increasingly challenging.”

In his order, Colonel McCall The doctors were given access to information about what happened to Mr. Bin al-Sheib during his four-year interrogation at the secret CIA “black site” network where prisoners were tortured.

The full report will not be made public. Prosecutors will be provided with the verdict, not the underlying facts. But medical research may offer insight into the long-term effects of the CIA’s nudity, sleep deprivation and physical abuse of prisoners to reveal al-Qaeda plots.

Mr Bin al-Sheib claims he has been tortured by noise and vibration as part of a years-long campaign to deprive him of sleep. Court testimony and filings show he often screams at night, hits guards, breaks his cell camera and disturbs the sleep of other inmates. Doctors have put him on antipsychotic medication, although opinions on his condition range from a delusional disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychosis due to other mental health disorders.

Ramzi bin al-Sheib, one of the men accused of planning the Sept. 11 attacks at Guantanamo Bay in 2019, in a photo provided by his defense team.

A member of the mental health panel is Paul Montalbano, a forensic psychologist who conducted the review John W. Hinckley JrThe man who tried to assassinate President Ronald Reagan. Mr. Hinckley was found not guilty by reason of insanity in 1982 and spent three decades in a Washington psychiatric hospital. Dr Montalbano assessed his suitability for release, which took place in stages between 2016 and 2022.

The identity of two other members of the panel is not known.

The eligibility question emerged behind the scenes before prosecutors entered plea negotiations in March 2022. Khalid Sheikh MuhammadThe accused mastermind of the September 11 attacks. Mr. Bin Al-Sheib; and three other defendants. Prosecutors who had been trying to bring the death penalty case to trial since 2009. The request suggested negotiation As he struggled to comply with the judge’s orders to provide defense attorneys with more information about the time and treatment of the detainees by the CIA.

In exchange for acknowledging my roles Hijackings, which killed around 3,000 people. In New York, at the Pentagon and on the field in Pennsylvania, defendants seek assurances that they will not have to serve their sentences in solitary confinement. The detainees, who are victims of various conditions they blame for their torture, also want the Pentagon to agree to establish a civilian trauma care program for them.

The prosecution has. Presented some of these questions to the Pentagon’s General Counsel as “principles of policy,” requiring the administration to take a position on whether they can be adjusted.

Prosecutors have asked to call witnesses at the next hearing, including Frank Pellegrino, a retired FBI agent who participated in the 2007 interrogation of Mr. Muhammad at Guantanamo Bay.

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