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A suspect believed to be one of the masterminds behind the 9/11 attacks has been deemed mentally unfit to stand trial by a military judge following on from a medical panel recommendation.
The panel announced earlier this week that Ramzi bin al-Shibh, 51, had become psychotic and diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after being ‘tortured’ by the CIA in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
His pre-trial hearing was set to begin on Friday, he was facing trial alongside four others. Colonel Matthew McCall agreed with the panel’s findings that al-Shibh’s mental state meant that he would not be able to participate fully in his own defense or even to enter a plea.
A medical board said that the suspect had been rendered ‘delusional and psychotic,’ reports The New York Times.
Defense lawyers argue that the best hope of al-Shibh, a Yemeni accused of organizing one cell of the Sept. 11, 2001, hijackers, regaining competency to stand trial is a step that some Americans are likely to find distasteful: for him to be provided with post-torture trauma care and no longer subject to solitary confinement.
Ramzi bin al-Shibh, 51, has been ruled unfit to stand trial in death-penalty case after Guantanamo Bay
The report said also said that al-Shibh would be ‘unable to understand the nature of the proceedings against him or cooperate intelligently.’
The trial of his co-defendants, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, believed to be one of the key figures in the attack,
Al-Shibh is a native of Yemen, he has been in custody since September 2002 when he was arrested in Pakistan. Four years later he was transferred to Guantanamo Bay, where he has remained ever since.
During that time, the suspect ‘went insane as a result of what the agency called enhanced interrogation techniques, that included sleep deprivation, waterboarding and beatings,’ his lawyers said.
The report said also said that al-Shibh would be ‘unable to understand the nature of the proceedings against him or cooperate intelligently’
In 2008, al-Shibh made headlines when he launched into an unhinged rant during a hearing at the military base in Cuba. His mental state has been an issue ever since
In 2008, al-Shibh made headlines when he launched into an unhinged rant during a hearing at the military base in Cuba. His mental state has been an issue ever since.
He is accused of organizing an Al Qaeda cell in Hamburg, Germany, that would eventually go on to hijack one of the commercial jets that crashed into the World Trade Center.
Shortly after those attacks, then-US President George W. Bush’s administration established a prison camp at the military outpost in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
It has been the target of numerous claims of human rights abuses against inmates.
On Tuesday, al-Shibh’s lead attorney, David Bruck, told the courtroom that the diagnosis is creating ‘a moment of truth’ and an opportunity for the country to take into account the harm that was done by allowing torture.
On Sept. 6, the White House said President Joe Biden had declined to approve or deny demands presented by defense lawyers in plea negotiations to settle the case.
They were seeking guarantees that all five men would get care for the physical and mental damage of their torture, and would be spared solitary confinement going forward.
Biden was unsettled about accepting terms for the plea from those responsible for the deadliest assault on the United States since Pearl Harbor, a White House National Security Council official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Defense and prosecution attorneys had been negotiating a possible deal that would have the defendants plead guilty in exchange for being spared the death penalty.
Some family members of 9/11 victims objected to the plea negotiations. Conservatives faulted the Biden administration for allowing the negotiations.
Logistical challenges and legal questions have slowed the commission in this case at Guantanamo. That includes the question of how much evidence has been rendered inadmissible by torture while they were in CIA custody.
The case has had a succession of military judges, with the fourth announcing Tuesday that he will retire in April.