Military judge allows information obtained during FORTURE to be used in death penalty case of terror suspect charged with plotting suicide attack on USS Cole
- Colonel Lanny J. Acosta Jr. ruled on May 18 that prosecutors may use information obtained while torturing a suspect during preliminary investigations
- Defense lawyers for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri are now asking a higher court to overturn that ruling, the first of its kind in US history.
- Defense lawyers had asked for information about drone attacks, which the prosecutors wanted to prevent by using information obtained through torture
- Nashiri is accused of plotting the Al-Qaeda suicide bombing of the USS Cole while it was off the coast of Yemen in October 2000.
- He now awaits his death penalty trial in Guantanamo Bay
For the first time in US history, a military judge allows prosecutors to submit information obtained while torturing an alleged terrorist.
Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of plotting the Al-Qaeda suicide bombing of the USS Cole off the coast of Yemen in October 2000, is awaiting his death penalty trial in Guantanamo Bay.
Colonel Lanny J. Acosta Jr. ruled on May 18 that US government prosecutors may use the information they received while torturing al-Nashiri in a limited capacity during pre-trial hearings.
Now defense attorneys representing 56-year-old al-Nashiri are asking a higher court to overturn Acosta’s ruling, in a 20-page dossier to the Pentagon panel, the United States Court of Military Commission Review board, on Thursday: “No. the court once sanctioned the use of torture in this way.”
“No court has ever authorized the government’s use of torture as a tool in discovery proceedings,” or as “a legitimate means of facilitating interlocutory fact-finding by a court,” the filing said. New York Times, says.
Al-Nashiri is accused of plotting the Al-Qaeda suicide bombing of the USS Cole, which was docked off the coast of Yemen in October 2000, killing 17 sailors.
Colonel Lanny J. Acosta Jr. ruled on May 18 that prosecutors may use information received while torturing Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri in a limited capacity during pre-trial hearings
He is also accused of attacking an oil tanker, the Limburg, two years later, killing a crew member.
Nashiri has been in US captivity since 2002 and spent the first four years in CIA custody. He is now awaiting his death sentence trial in Guantanamo Bay.
In March, prosecutors filed a classified court document that apparently tried to prevent the defense from asking about a 2015 drone strike in Syria that killed another suspected al-Qaeda bomber, Mohsen al-Fashli.
The defense is trying to get information about several of these drone strikes as they pursue a possible defense that senior or accomplice members of the terrorist organization have already been killed by the US
To prevent them from getting this information, the Times reports, prosecutors are relying on something Nashiri had secretly told CIA interrogators “during the early weeks of his captivity, when he was actively and brutally tortured” .
Al-Nashiri is accused of plotting the Al-Qaeda suicide bombing of the USS Cole while docked off the coast of Yemen in October 2000, killing 17 sailors
He is now being held in Guantanamo Bay (pictured) awaiting trial
It marks a departure from the past, when prosecutors would try to build their cases around interrogations conducted by FBI agents in “clean teams” in Guantanamo Bay.
But according to defense attorneys, Nashiri disclosed this information when “US agents used a broomstick in a particularly vicious manner while interrogating him, alarming observers and making the prisoner scream,” the Times reported.
However, Acosta ruled that the information could be used “but only to provide context on a discovery issue in dispute.”
He said there are times when judges may consider information obtained during torture, but noted that “statements obtained through torture are necessarily of highly suspect reliability.”
Acosta told prosecutors to exercise caution if they want to rely on the statement to back up a factual claim in the trial, saying that when Congress first approved the military commissions in 1950, it was the jury—existing from military officers – forbidden to hear evidence obtained through torture.
The next hearings in Nashiri’s case are scheduled for September.