U.S. News

Defense Lawyers Move to Block Force-Feeding of Guantánamo Prisoner

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — One of the 5 males accused of conspiring within the Sept. 11 assaults is refusing to eat after being positioned in isolation and has been instructed he might be force-fed, his legal professionals mentioned in a authorized submitting that requested a army court docket to intervene.

Lawyers for the person, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a 49-year-old Yemeni who had been held by the C.I.A. earlier than being moved to Guantánamo, described the menace of force-feeding as the primary of its sort within the long-running death-penalty case, and psychologically traumatizing for his or her shopper.

During the George W. Bush administration, the defendants within the Sept. 11 case had been held in secret C.I.A. prisons the place some detainees had been tortured and, after they went on starvation strike, had been subjected to a quasi-medical method of “rectal refeeding” or “rectal hydration.”

The court docket submitting, dated July 9, is the primary signal of protest on the maximum-security jail the place the previous C.I.A. detainees had been relocated in April from a dilapidated if extra communal facility that often suffered energy outages and sewage backups.

A spokesman for the Defense Department, Mike Howard, mentioned on Monday that none of the 40 detainees had been being fed involuntarily “at this time.” He added that “we do not use solitary confinement at Guantánamo,” reflecting a long-held position by the army that being positioned alone on a cell block doesn’t represent solitary confinement as a result of a detainee has the chance to converse with guards, legal professionals, medical employees and linguists.

No date has been set for the beginning of the trial. Mr. bin al-Shibh and the opposite 4 males who’re accused of conspiring within the assault have been in pretrial proceedings since arraignment in 2012, and Mr. bin al-Shibh just lately obtained a brand new lead lawyer, David I. Bruck, who makes a speciality of defending prisoners in capital circumstances.

To complicate issues, the case at present has no trial choose. It had been managed in a caretaker standing by the previous chief choose, Col. Douglas Ok. Watkins of the Army, who retires on the finish of the month.

Mr. bin al-Shibh has lengthy been thought of essentially the most unstable of the previous C.I.A. prisoners at Guantánamo. He has been repeatedly faraway from court docket proceedings for interrupting with complaints of vibrations shaking his cell and painful pinpricks on his pores and skin, which he claims are half of an almost two-decade U.S. marketing campaign of sleep deprivation.

People with data of his circumstances mentioned he continued to understand the issue in his new cell, and would shout at evening and cover the surveillance digital camera, prompting guards to place him in isolation round June 25.

Since then, he has refused meals “to protest his isolation,” in accordance to a 12-page emergency submitting that asks a choose on the army commissions to prohibit his pressured feeding.

“Mr. bin al-Shibh does not seek to die or injure himself,” the pleading mentioned. “He does not even seek to end his discipline. Instead, he seeks to end his isolation and return to his previous location, where his fellow detainees can be aware of what is happening to him as before.”

Mr. bin al-Shibh was “placed in a disciplinary status” as a result of he assaulted one other detainee and for “destruction of government property,” an obvious reference to damaging the surveillance digital camera in his jail cell, in accordance to a Defense Department official who spoke concerning the case on situation of anonymity.

Defense Department officers declined to say what the present, accepted kind of force-feeding is on the jail. At instances, guards have shackled prisoners to a hospital mattress and administered intravenous drips. More sometimes, the detainee is shackled right into a restraint chair and medics snake a tube up a detainee’s nostril and into his abdomen after which pump diet inside.

The C.I.A. used one other methodology, which concerned shackling a prisoner to a gurney or laying him out on the ground and inserting meals or liquid by a tube inserted within the prisoner’s anus. This was in the course of the years when its captives had been held at secret websites in overseas nations.

Detainees among the many 780 males and boys who’ve been held at Guantánamo since January 2002 have periodically gone on starvation strikes to protest their circumstances, and the army has by no means permitted one to starve himself to dying.

“The medical team ensures that detainees that may be conducting self-imposed fasting are not creating damage to their long-term health,” Mr. Howard mentioned. “Any detainee who chooses to conduct a self-imposed fast is made aware of the consequences of this decision.”

Prison employees members instructed Mr. bin al-Shibh on July 3 that, if he didn’t begin consuming, he might be force-fed as quickly as this previous weekend, in accordance to the submitting.

His legal professionals requested for a court docket order to stop the feeding, or for the court docket to “review the procedures for force-feeding to ensure they are not unnecessarily invasive or harmful.” Their submitting additionally sought the use of a course of below which certified medical specialists decide {that a} prisoner is in “imminent danger of death” or a severe well being menace and search court docket permission to force-feed him.

Mr. bin al-Shibh will eat, the legal professionals wrote, if he may be close to different prisoners, even in disciplinary standing.

Guantánamo right this moment has 40 detainees. The few recognized to refuse meals are long-held normal inhabitants prisoners who, commanders have mentioned, typically drink a can of Ensure when confronted with the menace of being tackled, shackled and strapped to a restraint chair to immobilize them for feeding.

But comparable remedy has not been used on the so-called high-value detainees like Mr. bin al-Shibh as a result of they’ve been described as fearing the rectal refeeding methods the C.I.A. employed. In latest years they’ve been allowed to eat in small teams, however their new jail apparently doesn’t allow as many communal alternatives.

Mr. bin al-Shibh is accused of having organized some of the Sept. 11 hijackers whereas in Germany, the place he and the opposite males lived earlier than the assaults. He additionally reportedly aspired to be a hijacker himself by repeatedly making use of for a visa to the United States, however he failed to obtain one.

He was captured on Sept. 11, 2002, in Pakistan and was held by the United States, or a proxy, till his switch to Guantánamo in September 2006. In U.S. custody he has been “subjected to numerous violations of bodily autonomy, including forced shaving and forced nudity,” his legal professionals wrote. Once in army custody, he “has complained of continuous harassment designed to disrupt his daily life, sleep, functioning and relationship with counsel.”

Back to top button