The judge in charge of military tribunals at Guantánamo Bay allegedly colluded with prosecutors to hide evidence that supported the defense of suspected 9/11 architect Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, “irreparably” harming his case, according to a court document obtained by the Guardian on Tuesday.
The accusation could be the impetus to reform the highly controversial tribunals at the U.S. military prison in Cuba altogether, according to Karen Greenberg, the director of Fordham University Law School’s Center on National Security.
“This may well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in underscoring the unviability of the military commissions,” Greenberg told the Guardian.
According to the recently unsealed defense filing, Army Colonel James Pohl “in concert with the prosecution, manipulated secret proceedings and the use of secret orders.”
Pohl’s actions prevented Mohammed’s attorneys from learning that evidence in his defense had been destroyed, the document alleges.
“First they tell us they will not show us the evidence, but they will show our lawyers. Now, they don’t even show the lawyers,” Mohammed is quoted in the filing as saying. “Why don’t they just kill us?”
It is unclear what evidence Pohl and the prosecutors hid. However, as the Guardian reports:
Mohammed’s attorneys say the prosecution “belatedly” gave them a version of Pohl’s destruction order “by attaching it to another secret order,” and said that “without benefit of ever having examined the actual evidence, that the government’s proffer or a summary of a substitute for the original (now destroyed) evidence provided the defense with an adequate alternative to access to the evidence in question.”
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The destruction of the evidence “irreparably harmed” Mohammed’s defense and “call[s] into question Judge Pohl’s impartiality,” his attorneys said.
The Guardian continues:
Greenberg added, “Remember, a main reason they couldn’t have this [trial] in federal court was that it would have been such a circus. And now you have a full-blown circus, with judicial and every other kind of misstepping.”
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