Defendant disrupts hearing in 9/11 case

Sixth pretrial session since May 2012 arraignment

By Ben Fox
Associated Press

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) — A defendant in the Sept. 11 case at Guantanamo Bay was ejected from the courtroom Monday after arguing with the judge at the start of a pretrial hearing.

Ramzi Binalshibh got into a heated exchange with the judge, Army Col. James Pohl, shortly after the hearing opened. The defendants were being advised of their rights to sit out the rest of a pretrial session scheduled to run through Friday.

The defendant, a Yemeni who allegedly had been selected to be a Sept. 11 hijacker, sought to use what was supposed to be a brief acknowledgement of his rights as an opportunity to address the court at the U.S. base in Cuba. His words were not entirely clear through the court sound system but he mentioned sleep deprivation and insisted he should be allowed to speak.

“You can’t stop me talking,” he said.

Pohl rebuffed him. “No, you don’t have a right to talk,” the judge said, before warning his attorney that he would be removed if he continued to speak out. After several more exchanges, Pohl ordered guards to remove him and said Binalshibh would be required to attend the rest of the week’s session.

As Binalshibh stood and gestured at the judge, a row of uniformed guards along the wall of the courtroom immediately stood, and then three of them led the defendant out of the courtroom.

The lead defendant, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, also sought to address the court as he has in the past but the judge cut him off as well.

The exchanges came at the start of a hearing that was supposed to focus largely on problems with a Pentagon computer system used by lawyers in the case.

Defense lawyers say they have lost data and have doubts about the security of their email. They have asked the judge to put the proceedings on hold until the issue is resolved.

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