Judge rebuffs Obama; refuses to suspend Gitmo hearing

January 30th, 2009 - 10:35 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Jan 30 (DPA) A military judge in Gutananamo Bay Thursday denied a request by the Obama administration to suspend the proceedings against a Yemeni suspected of plotting the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole.The Washington Post reported online that the Army judge, Colonel James Pohl, found the reasoning to suspend the proceedings for 120 days “unpersuasive”.

Pohl’s decision places a glitch in President Barack Obama’s plans to seek delays in the 21 cases before military tribunals at Guantanamo so the files can be reviewed and as Obama weighs options for closing the notorious prison camp and for trying detainees.

White House Robert Gibbs said the ruling would not thwart the ongoing evaluation of the Guantanamo cases. “Not at all,” he said.

Shortly after taking office Jan 20, Obama ordered prosecutors to seek four-month suspensions of the proceedings, which were quickly granted in other cases. But Pohl ruled that moving forward with the hearing for Abd al Rahim al-Nashiri would not interfere with Obama’s review, the Post reported.

Obama could respond by ordering the charges against al-Nashiri withdrawn. Al-Nashiri is scheduled to be arraigned Feb 9 on charges of plotting the suicide attack in the Gulf of Aden that killed 17 US sailors.

Obama has ordered the closure of Guantanamo within a year and has assembled a committee to review what could be done with the remaining 245 detainees and how to proceed with those who can be charged with crimes. Obama is seeking possible alternatives to the controversial military tribunals set up by predecessor George W. Bush.

A judge last week agreed to suspend the cases against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the Sep 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and four co-defendants. The case against Canadian citizen Omar Kadr, accused of killing a US soldier in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old, was also suspended.

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