Ethics claims latest snag in 2000 USS Cole bombing
WASHINGTON — Two decades after his arrest, the suspected organizer of a deadly 2000 al-Qaida attack on a U.S. Navy warship has faced the possibility of further delays to his trial at Guantanamo after his Defense attorney asked Monday to be allowed to leave the case. alleged conflict of interest.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, detained at Guantanamo, faces the death penalty for the murder of 17 American sailors, who died when an explosive-laden boat exploded next to the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen.
Proceedings before the military commission have been mired in delays and legal challenges regarding the admissibility of evidence from Nashiri’s torture-assisted interrogations and regarding other circumstances of his trial and detention. Captured in 2002, Nashiri endured waterboarding, beatings and crate confinement during years of CIA detention in clandestine detention centers.
Questions about the handling of Nashiri’s case, like those of five other Guantanamo Bay detainees accused of planning and aiding al-Qaeda’s September 11 attacks on the United States, led a military tribunal to go through preliminary hearings, constitutional debates and other issues. .
There is increasing talk of plea bargains to end all cases. But it remains unclear where the defendants would serve their sentences.
On Monday, Nashiri’s top military attorney, Navy Captain Brian Mizer, pressed Judge Col. Lanny Acosta Jr. to allow Mizer to step down as Nashiri’s attorney, alleging he had a conflict of interests. interests that should prevent him from serving in Nashiri’s team.
The alleged dispute concerns Mizer’s past defense work for a former Guantanamo detainee, Salim Hamdan, an alleged driver for Osama bin Laden. Nashiri prosecutors offer to introduce a statement from Hamdan, who is now in Yemen after serving his sentence. It is expected that Hamdan overheard Nashiri talking about staging the attack on the Cole.
Mizer also had information regarding Hamdan’s case that Nashiri’s defense team should have, but could never ethically disclose given his attorney-client’s confidentiality with Hamdan, Mizer told the judge.
“Red lines have been triggered,” said Mizer, who was appointed by the military to defend Nashiri. “I’ve gone as far as I can ethically…to help this defense team.”
Acosta, the judge, grilled Mizer on why he was pressing to step down only after years on Nashiri’s defense in the now 22-year-old offense.
“Raise this issue now – one wonders why it’s being raised now,” Mizer said, sternly waving an index finger at one point.
Nashiri, at Guantanamo court in a gray shirt and jacket, spoke, courtesy of the judge.
“From what I understand, there is a conflict with Mr. Mizer. At the same time, I need him. I don’t know how this is resolved,” Nashiri said, spreading her hands in the air.
The military provided closed-circuit video of Guantanamo proceedings at the Pentagon and elsewhere.
The judge said on Monday that a pre-trial review of whether Hamdan’s hearsay testimony against Nashiri could be used in the case would not take place until February 2023.
Acosta also ordered Mizer to tell him by Monday, privately, what confidential information he has from Hamdan’s representation that creates conflict in Nashiri’s case.