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9/11 Defendant Not Fit for Death-Penalty Trial, Judge Rules

A navy choose dominated on Thursday {that a} defendant within the Sept. 11 case who was tortured by the C.I.A. was ineligible for a death-penalty trial, adopting a discovering that the prisoner was too psychologically broken to assist defend himself.

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

Mr. bin al-Shibh was charged as an confederate within the assaults that killed 2,976 folks, and is accused of serving to set up a cell of hijackers in Hamburg, Germany, whose chief commandeered Flight No. 11 and flew it into the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

The choose ordered pretrial proceedings to proceed on Friday with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who’s accused of being the mastermind of the plot, and the opposite three defendants however excluded Mr. bin al-Shibh from the listening to.

The choice appeared to tacitly vindicate a declare by the prisoner’s legal protection lawyer, David I. Bruck, that the C.I.A. torture had made the Yemeni prisoner insane.

Prosecutors had urged the choose to reject the Aug. 24 discovering by a workforce of U.S. navy psychiatrists and a forensic psychologist that Mr. bin al-Shibh has “a mental disease or defect” that left him “unable to understand the nature of the proceedings against him or cooperate intelligently” along with his authorized workforce.

The sanity board diagnosed him as having post-traumatic stress dysfunction with secondary psychotic options in addition to a delusional dysfunction.

For years, Mr. bin al-Shibh has mentioned he was laid low with invisible forces that induced his mattress and cell to vibrate and that stung his genitals, depriving him of sleep. He has disrupted courtroom proceedings and the peace on the jail for “high-value detainees” who have been subjected to “enhanced interrogation” comparable to waterboarding, beatings and sleep deprivation in C.I.A. custody.

Mr. Bruck advised the choose on Tuesday that Mr. bin al-Shibh was a damaged man from his C.I.A. detention in 2002 to 2006, throughout which he was held in solitary confinement, disadvantaged of sleep and abused in different methods, together with being pressured to face chained and in a diaper for as much as three days at a time. He described Mr. bin al-Shibh as so trapped in an infinite cycle of sleep deprivation that he couldn’t assist mount a protection.

The prisoner’s “complex delusions and hallucinations” are “omnipresent” at authorized conferences, mentioned Mr. Bruck, a U.S. lawyer who specializes in capital punishment cases.

In response to a query from the choose, Mr. Bruck mentioned his workforce devoted nearly all of its time with the prisoner making an attempt to mollify him by documenting his delusions or making an attempt to intercede on his behalf with prisoner commanders, who reply to his offended outbursts and efforts to break his cell by inserting him in isolation paying homage to his solitary confinement.

“The totality of the facts demonstrates an accused who is wholly focused on his delusions,” Colonel McCall wrote. “Again and again, he focuses his counsel’s work on stopping his delusional harassment, (which) demonstrates the impairment of his ability to assist in his defense.”

In severing Mr. bin al-Shibh from the case, the choose basically suspended his prosecution till his psychological well being is restored.

The Pentagon’s prosecutor, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., argued that the analysis was unreliable and legally flawed as a result of the three Defense Department psychological well being specialists targeted on an irrational demand that Mr. bin al-Shibh made initially of plea negotiations in March final 12 months.

Until this week, prosecutors had been offering a maximum sentence of life in prison, moderately than the potential of capital punishment, in alternate for detailed admissions of guilt by a defendant prepared to explain his function within the assaults.

Mr. bin al-Shibh had just one demand, which basically disqualified him from negotiations: Make the jail cease assaulting him with its invisible system of sleep deprivation. Prison workers members have testified that’s not occurring.

The choose sealed the total 80-page report by the panel on the request of Mr. bin al-Shibh’s authorized workforce however launched a single-page summary of their findings.

“It is no longer possible,” Mr. Bruck mentioned on Thursday evening, to disclaim “that the C.I.A. torture program did profound harm to the people subjected to it.” He added that, whereas the board discovered Mr. bin al-Shibh unfit in August, “there is nothing new about his condition now.”

“He has been like this the whole time,” Mr. Bruck mentioned. “It has taken this long to admit it.”

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