Top prosecutor says U.S. will charge more Guantanamo Bay detainees
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – The U.S. government plans to file charges against more detainees at Guantanamo Bay and will seek the death penalty in some cases, the top military prosecutor at the military base said Monday.Air Force Col. Morris Davis, chief prosecutor for the tribunals being held at this remote U.S. military base in southeastern Cuba, declined to disclose details about plans to charge about two dozen detainees in addition to the 10 already charged.Pretrial hearings were scheduled this week for three of the 10 – and the lawyer for one of them said his client is threatening a boycott.The alleged al-Qaida militant was recently transferred to a higher security section of the Guantanamo Bay prison and will boycott his military trial unless his confinement conditions are eased, his lawyer said Monday.Sufyian Barhoumi, an Algerian charged with plotting attacks against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, was moved last month from a communal living unit at Guantanamo Bay to the maximum security Camp Five, where he is allowed outside his cell for two hours a day and has no real communication with other detainees, said Army Capt. Wade Faulkner, his military lawyer.”He said that if he wasn’t moved by today, he was going to become uncooperative,” Faulkner said.Guantanamo Bay officials say detainees who have been formally charged are moved out of communal living for their own safety and there are no plans to change that policy. “Detainee security and protection is of utmost concern,” the military said in a statement.The U.S. holds about 490 detainees at Guantanamo Bay for alleged links to al-Qaida or the Taliban. The military has said it plans to transfer or release about 140 Guantanamo Bay detainees, but gave no time frame.Faulkner, who planned to challenge Barhoumi’s transfer to Camp Five at a pretrial hearing Wednesday, said the harsher conditions were unjustified and undermined the “fragile” relationship between detainees and their appointed military lawyers.”Every little thing just chips away at the relationship,” he said. “We make progress. We get some trust built up and something happens … It’s one step forward two steps back.”Davis said boycotts like the one threatened by Barhoumi would not derail the trials. “The process is going to move forward,” he said.Another detainee, Ali Hamza Ahmad Sulayman al-Bahlul, has refused to attend pretrial hearings at this U.S. military base because he has been denied a request to represent himself or be defended by a lawyer from his native Yemen.Prisoners in Camp Five are kept in one-man solid-wall cells and are allowed outside from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m., Faulkner said. In Camp Four, small groups of detainees live in dorm-like rooms clustered around an area where they can play group sports. The area is reserved for the most compliant prisoners or those who are soon to be released.Conditions at the prison vary depending on detainees’ behavior and their perceived intelligence value. The largest number are in Camp One, where prisoners are kept in steel-mesh cells and can talk among themselves. Those who behave can graduate to Camp Four, the second largest.Pretrial hearings are also scheduled this week for Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi and Jabran Said bin al-Qahtani, both of Saudi Arabia.Al-Sharbi, an electrical engineering graduate from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott, Ariz., and al-Qahtani are charged along with Barhoumi of one count each of conspiracy for allegedly plotting attacks against troops and civilians as members of al-Qaida. They face up to life in prison if convicted.