A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Federal judge rules former Guantanamo detainee fit to stand trial

A federal judge on Thursday ruled that former Guantanamo Bay detainee Ahmed Ghailani [GlobalSecurity profile; JURIST news archive] is not suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and is therefore fit to stand trial. The issue of Ghailani's psychological state arose after he requested to be exempt [JURIST report] from prison strip searches because it triggers his PTSD, which he allegedly acquired while being interrogated at an overseas Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] detention camp. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the US District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) [official website] denied the request, but decided to further investigate Ghailani's PTSD claims. Kaplan concluded that the reason Ghailani has skipped hearings in the case is an effort to frustrate the prosecution rather than the consequence of psychological trauma from strip searches. Kaplan also stated that Ghailani is capable of standing trial and is of the mind to adequately defend himself.

The exemption request was filed in May after Kaplan ruled that Ghailani must attend the opening of his trial [JURIST report], requiring him to submit to strip searches. Kaplan held that the entire visual search was a necessary safety standard to prevent inmates from hiding weapons and other illegal items in body cavities. Last month, Kaplan refused to dismiss criminal charges [JURIST report] against Ghailani, despite his lawyer's claims that he had been tortured in prison. Kaplan held that even if Ghailani were mistreated while in CIA custody, there was no connection between that and the current prosecution. In November, Kaplan ruled that Ghailani does not have a right to be represented by his military defense lawyers [JURIST report] in a civilian court. In July 2009, Ghailani's military lawyers requested access [JURIST report] to the CIA "black sites" at which their client was held prior to his transfer to Guantanamo Bay and was allegedly subjected to cruel interrogation methods. Ghailani was the first Guantanamo detainee to be brought to the US for prosecution. Having been held at the Guantanamo facility since 2006, Ghailani was transferred [JURIST report] to the SDNY in June to face 286 separate counts, including involvement in the bombings and conspiring with Osama bin Laden and other members of al Qaeda to kill Americans worldwide. He pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] at his initial appearance.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.