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Pentagon withdraws charges against USS Cole suspect

Latest update : 2009-02-06

A Pentagon judge has withdrawn charges against Guantanamo detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of participating in the deadly October 2000 attack on the USS Cole. He remains in custody and can be charged again.

AFP - A Pentagon judge has withdrawn charges against Guantanamo detainee Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, accused of participating in the deadly October 2000 attack on the USS Cole, the Pentagon told AFP Thursday.

Judge Susan Crawford, the convening authority of military commissions, "has withdrawn the charges against al-Nashiri," said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.

However Crawford "has withdrawn the charges without prejudice, meaning he can be charged again," said Jeffrey Gordon, another Pentagon spokesman.

Crawford's procedural move brings the case against Nashiri to a halt, at least temporarily, and falls in line with President Barack Obama's executive order shortly after taking office calling for a 120-day delay in proceedings against terror suspects at Guantanamo.

Army Colonel James Pohl, the chief judge at the Guantanamo Bay war crimes court, had rejected Obama's request to suspend Nashiri's trial, and the Saudi national was due to be arraigned on Monday.

Born in Mecca, Nashiri, 43, was accused of conspiring to help two Islamic extremists who steered an explosives-laden barge alongside the US Navy destroyer Cole, which was docked at the port of Aden, Yemen. The attackers then detonated themselves and their load.

The October 12, 2000 attack killed 17 US sailors and wounded dozens of others. The blast punched a 12-meter (40-foot) hole in the ship's side.

Nashiri was arrested in 2002, and held in a secret CIA prison for almost four years before being transferred to the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The Defense Department charged that Nashiri rented apartments and houses near Aden to observe the port area, and purchased the boat used in the attack.

In February, former CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that US interrogators had secretly waterboarded Nashiri and two other detainees while he was in the spy agency's custody.

According to defense lawyers, often the whole process begins again from zero in order to avoid using documents which could show the defendant had been subjected to harsh interrogations.

 

Date created : 2009-02-06