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Military judge refuses to halt USS Cole hearing

A military judge on Monday refused to halt further hearings in the 2000 USS Cole [Navy backgrounder] bombing trial. The chief US military judge at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] Colonel James Pohl held that the defense attorney failed to present any evidence [AP report] supporting allegations of eavesdropping. Lawyers for Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [JURIST news archive] accused the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) [official website] of secretly listening into their privileged conversations with their client. Pohl stated that the hearings will continue and that he cannot stop the proceedings merely based on suspicion that something might happen. The allegations were raised last week when few minutes of a pretrial hearing in the case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed [JURIST news archive] and four other co-defendants were cut from the closed-circuit broadcast, for which neither Pohl nor the security officer was responsible. Al-Nashiri is accused of bombing the USS Cole while it was in port in Yemen in October 2000. The prosecution is seeking death penalty for Al-Nashiri.

Last month, Pohl denied motion [JURIST report] filed by al-Nashiri's lawyers to dismiss alleged violations of the Military Commissions Act [text, PDF] in August 2012 on grounds that the bombing occurred "prior to the commencement of hostilities" between the US and al Qaeda [JURIST news archive]. Controversy continues to surround Guantanamo military trials. In December, Pohl upheld [JURIST report] a request to censor 9/11 conspirators' testimony. In September a judge for the US District Court for the District of Columbia rejected [JURIST report] new restrictions on lawyers representing Guantanamo Bay detainees who have had their habeas corpus challenges denied or dismissed. The Department of Defense announced in 2011 that it had sworn charges against the five men [JURIST report] accused in the 9/11 attacks. In April 2011 US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four others would be tried by a military commission [JURIST report] after the Obama administration abandoned attempts to have the 9/11 suspects tried in civilian courts.

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