Guantánamo

Judge to give liberal bathroom breaks but won’t halt trial of alleged war criminal

A military approved view of the path between the holding cells and the courtroom at Camp Justice at the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Dec. 3, 2016.
A military approved view of the path between the holding cells and the courtroom at Camp Justice at the U.S. Navy base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Dec. 3, 2016. crosenberg@miamiherald.com

A war court judge on Wednesday rejected a request by lawyers for an alleged al-Qaida commander to halt two weeks of pretrial hearings because the captive is still recovering from emergency spinal surgery.

Defense attorney Adam Thurschwell accused guards at the terror prison of willful indifference to the healthcare needs of Abd al Hadi al Iraqi, in his 50s, as the captive sat in court in a padded wheelchair recovering from four rounds of U.S. military surgeries since Sept. 5.

Court discussion on both days focused on problems with toilet issues at the crude war court compound called Camp Justice.

Thurschwell noted that after court on Tuesday the captive soiled himself while waiting in a wheelchair for a ride back to his prison cell because his holding cell had no running water, and a toilet seat meant for the disabled was broken. Prosecutors called an Army major who serves as a prison lawyer to testify that it was Hadi’s fault because he spurned offers of being taken to the cell.

Marine Col. Peter Rubin, the judge, ruled that there was no merit to Hadi’s claim of deliberate indifference to his medical needs. The judge did, however, say he would accommodate the needs of the alleged war criminal in the wheelchair with shorter sessions, later start times and longer bathroom breaks. He also noted the toilet seat was repaired and urged Air Force engineers to move “expeditiously” to restore running water to the holding cell.

Hadi, who got to Guantánamo in 2007, was charged in June 2014 with allegedly commanding insurgents who attacked and killed U.S. and allied troops who invaded Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 terror attacks. No trial date has yet been set as lawyers and the judge work through pretrial evidence and other legal issues.

Miami Herald guide: About the alleged al-Qaida commander’s war crimes trial

Hadi’s lawyers claim medical records show he had a chronic degenerative disc disease that went untreated until he became incontinent and was at risk of paralysis in September. They say he can only concentrate for a few hours a day before pain and fatigue set in, making it impossible for him to participate in his own defense.

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