9/11 Defendant Unsuitable for Death Penalty Trial, Judge Rules | ET REALITY


A military judge ruled Thursday that a defendant in the 9/11 case who was tortured by the CIA was ineligible for a death penalty trial, ruling that the prisoner was too psychologically damaged to help defend himself.

The judge, Col. Matthew N. McCall, disqualified Ramzi bin al-Shibh, 51, from what had been a five-defendant conspiracy case in an 11-page ruling Thursday night.

Bin al-Shibh was accused of being an accomplice in the attacks that killed 2,976 people and is accused of helping organize a cell of hijackers in Hamburg, Germany, whose leader hijacked Flight 11 and crashed it into the World Trade Center on the 11th. September 2001.

The judge ordered pre-trial proceedings to continue on Friday with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, accused of masterminding the plot, and the three other defendants, but excluded Mr bin al-Shibh from the hearing.

The decision appeared to tacitly vindicate a claim by the prisoner’s criminal defense attorney, David I. Bruck, that CIA torture had driven the Yemeni prisoner insane.

Prosecutors had urged the judge to reject the Aug. 24 conclusion by a team of U.S. military psychiatrists and a forensic psychologist that Bin al-Shibh has “a mental illness or defect” that left him “unable to understand the nature of the trial.” ”. against him or intelligently cooperate” with his legal team.

the sanity board They were diagnosed for having post-traumatic stress disorder with secondary psychotic features, as well as delusional disorder.

For years, bin al-Shibh has said he was tormented by invisible forces that made his bed and cell vibrate and made his genitals itch, depriving him of sleep. He has disrupted court procedures and prison peace for “high-value detainees” who were subjected to “enhanced interrogations” such as waterboarding, beatings and sleep deprivation in CIA custody.

Bruck told the judge Tuesday that bin al-Shibh was a man broken by his detention by the CIA between 2002 and 2006, during which he was held in solitary confinement, deprived of sleep and otherwise abused, including forced to sleep . They remain chained and in diapers for up to three days at a time. He described Bin al-Shibh as someone so trapped in an endless cycle of sleep deprivation that he couldn’t help but mount a defense.

The prisoner’s “complex delusions and hallucinations” are “omnipresent” in legal meetings, said Bruck, an American lawyer who specializes in capital cases.

In response to a question from the judge, Bruck said his team spent almost all of its time with the prisoner trying to appease him by documenting his delusions or trying to intercede on his behalf with prisoner commanders, who respond to his angry outbursts and efforts to harm his cell, placing him in isolation reminiscent of his solitary confinement.

“The totality of the facts demonstrates that the defendant is totally focused on his delusions,” Colonel McCall wrote. “Time and time again, he focuses his attorney’s work on stopping her delusional harassment of him, (which) demonstrates the deterioration of his ability to assist in his defense.”

By separating Mr. bin al-Shibh from the case, the judge essentially stayed his prosecution until his mental health is restored.

Pentagon prosecutor Clayton G. Trivett Jr. argued that the diagnosis was unreliable and legally flawed because the three Defense Department mental health experts focused on an unreasonable demand that Mr. bin al-Shibh made of the start of plea negotiations last March. year.

Until this week, prosecutors had been offering a maximum sentence of life in prison, rather than the possibility of the death penalty, in exchange for a detailed admission of guilt from a defendant willing to describe his role in the attacks.

Bin al-Shibh had only one demand, which essentially disqualified him from the negotiations: that the prison stop attacking him with its invisible system of sleep deprivation. Prison staff members have testified that that is not happening.

The judge sealed the panel’s entire 80-page report at the request of Mr. bin al-Shibh’s legal team, but released a single page summary of their findings.

“It is no longer possible,” Bruck said Thursday night, to deny “that the CIA torture program caused profound harm to those subjected to it.” He added that while the board deemed Bin al-Shibh unfit in August, “there is nothing new about his condition now.”

“It’s been like this the whole time,” Bruck said. “It took a long time to admit that.”

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