By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service
FORT MEADE, Md., Oct. 24, 2012 – Alleging threats and aggression from military prison guards, the suspect in the bombing of the USS Cole told a military tribunal judge today such actions were why he did not attend court yesterday at the U.S. naval station at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In the second day of his motions hearing, Abd al Rahim Hussayn Muhammad al-Nashiri told the judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, that today was the first time in his 10-year incarceration that he was able to speak to someone about the allegations.
“It’s very important you hear this. [I] might have threats on me if I leave my cell,” Nashiri told the judge through a translator. “In my prison [the guards], say, ‘We are taking security measures,’ and create new rules, but it has nothing to do with security. That is impossible,” he said. “I have a right to tell the judge about it.”
Nashiri also told the judge, “If you are [in a line with other prisoners and] you move 1 meter, the guards will chain your hands, legs and belly.”
Nashiri said he had a “bad back” and the belly chains hurt him when he has to wear them to court, and the vehicle he was transported in was uncomfortable, and made him ill.
He asked the judge to intervene and tell the guards to “stop [the] aggression.”
“I want the world to know I was sentenced to death because I [won’t come to] court in chains,” he said.
Pohl compelled Nashiri yesterday to appear at today’s hearing, so the judge could advise him of his rights to be present or waive attendance at his hearings.
Nashiri was in the courtroom all day for the proceedings.
An alleged al-Qaida member, Nashiri was allegedly under the supervision of Osama bid Laden at the time of the Cole explosion, U.S. officials said.
The Cole was docked for a fuel stop in Aden, Yemen, when a small watercraft approached the ship’s port side and exploded. The explosion killed 17 sailors, and 40 more were injured.
Nashiri also is accused with an attempted attack on the USS The Sullivans in January 2000 and an attack on the French oil tanker Limburg in October 2002.
Nashiri is charged with perfidy, or treachery; murder in violation of the law of war; attempted murder in violation of the law of war; terrorism; conspiracy; intentionally causing serious bodily injury; attacking civilian objects and hazarding a vessel.
If convicted, Nashiri could face the death penalty.
Pohl did not rule on any of the motions argued today, after hurricane warnings closed up the Navy station.