War court

Alleged 9/11 conspirator complains about food service at Guantánamo

 

crosenberg@miamiherald.com

If there was any question about whether the prisoners at the secret camp called 7 were on a hunger strike Tuesday, alleged 9/11 attack lieutenant Ramzi bin al Shibh settled it. He complained about skimpy food service to the judge presiding at his death-penalty trial.

“Every time we go to hearings and I go to meetings with my lawyer, they don’t bring us food,” said Bin al Shibh, 41. He told Army Col. James L. Pohl, the judge, that he wanted to be returned to his cell because “this is one type of psychological torture ... for me and the brothers.”

The prison camps spokesman, Navy Capt. Robert Durand, has said he is forbidden to include any former CIA prisoners in the daily roundup of detainees on a long-running hunger strike.

As of Tuesday, the prison reported that 46 captives were considered hunger strikers, 35 of them eligible for forced-feedings — if they didn’t voluntarily drink a dose of nutritional supplement or cooperate with Navy nurses administering nasogastric feedings.

And although none of the five alleged co-conspirators looked malnourished at Monday’s hearing, Bin al Shibh’s complaints about the service to him and “the brothers” seemed to settle it.

Durand told reporters, outside court, that guards delivered “a freshly-prepared standard detainee halal meal” to the Yemeni captive at the war court compound during the lunch recess.

Bin al Shibh’s complaint: “His lunch did not include condiments such as olives and honey.”

The brief outburst came after a late lunch recess on Tuesday in a hearing devoted mostly to procedural questions involving secret evidence in the case that alleges Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Bin al Shibh and three other men conspired in the hijackings that killed 2,976 people in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001. The other four men had chosen to miss Tuesday’s hearing, a day after lawyers told the court that defendants Mustafa al Hawsawi and Walid bin Attash were suffering health problems.

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