WAR COURT

9/11 accused said to refuse Guantánamo mental exam

 

An accused Sept. 11 conspirator at Guantánamo is apparently not cooperating with an effort to determine if he is competent to stand trial.

Ramzi bin al Shibh declined to meet with three members of a military mental health review panel who sought to interview him last week at the U.S. base in Cuba, said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Bogucki, his Pentagon-appointed defense counsel.

Bin al Shibh told the panel members he “wasn’t able to meet with them at this time,” but he did not give a reason, Bogucki said. The lawyer and his civilian co-counsel said he was not allowed in the room during the exchange and heard about it from the interpreter.

Bin al Shibh told the panel members he “wasn’t able to meet with them at this time,” but he did not give a reason, Bogucki said. The lawyer and his civilian co-counsel said he was not allowed in the room during the exchange and heard about it from the interpreter.

A Department of Defense spokesman, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, declined comment.

Bogucki plans to ask the judge to change the makeup of the panel to include experts on the effects of torture and to grant more time for an evaluation scheduled to be completed by Feb. 1.

He said he was concerned that, without an interview, the panel may rely on previous medical records and conclude that Bin al Shibh has a delusional disorder, which his defense team disputes, but is still competent to stand trial. “If the government thinks this is an issue that needs to be settled, then it needs to be settled, but it needs to be done properly,” the lawyer said.

In December, the military judge presiding over the Sept. 11 case ordered a mental competency evaluation for bin al Shibh at the prosecution’s request after the defendant repeatedly disrupted pre-trial proceedings to complain that noises and vibrations are keeping him awake inside his cell.

He was ejected from the war court four times.

His lawyers, who say he was tortured and subjected to sleep deprivation in U.S. custody, want the judge to investigate potential causes of the noises. The military says nothing is being done to keep him awake.

Bin al Shibh is one of five defendants facing a capital conspiracy trial by military commission for their alleged roles planning and aiding the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.

Read more Guantánamo stories from the Miami Herald

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