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Biting and spitting captive faces Guantanamo judge

Reuters
May 21, 2008
By Jane Sutton

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) - Biting and spitting at guards, an Afghan prisoner was forced into the Guantanamo war court on Wednesday to face charges of planting explosives and launching missiles toward a U.S.-occupied area in Afghanistan in 2003.

Defendant Mohammed Kamin refused to leave his cell for his first appearance on a charge of providing material support for terrorism, so the military judge ordered him forcibly brought to the red-carpeted courtroom at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"During transportation here, Mr. Kamin attempted to spit on and bite one of the guards," said the judge, Air Force Col. W. Thomas Cumbie, explaining why Kamin was handcuffed and shackled as he sat at the defense table.

Kamin, wearing an orange jumpsuit and shaggy black beard, is accused by military prosecutors of joining al Qaeda and training at one of its camps to make and use small arms against U.S. and coalition forces.

Speaking through a Pashto-English interpreter, he called the charges a lie and a forgery and said he had no connection with al Qaeda or the Taliban. He said he did not want to be represented by a U.S. military lawyer, did not recognize the court's legitimacy and would not attend future hearings.

"My judge is the god that has created the sky and the land. He will be my lawyer and represent me. I wait for his decision. That's enough," Kamin said.

Rules for the special war crimes court created by the Bush administration to try non-U.S. citizens at the U.S. naval base in southeast Cuba require prisoners to attend their arraignments. But the trials can proceed without them if they boycott later sessions, as several defendants have announced their intent to do.

Kamin, who is about 30, is the second prisoner to be picked up and carried out of his cell by guards after refusing to voluntarily face an initial appearance in court.

Prosecutors alleged that he trained with al Qaeda to make remote detonators for roadside bombs and transported weapons to be used by the Taliban and al Qaeda against U.S. forces that invaded Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001, attacks.

He is accused of conducting surveillance on U.S. military bases, planting two mines on a bridge and launching missiles into areas occupied by U.S. troops and their allies around the Afghan city of Khost. Kamin would face life in prison if convicted.

The widely criticized Guantanamo trials are the first U.S. war crimes tribunals since World War Two. Pretrial hearings have progressed sporadically since August 2004, halted frequently by legal challenges.

Charges are pending against 13 of the 270 captives held at Guantanamo and the U.S. military plans to eventually try as many as 80.

Since the Guantanamo detention camp opened in 2002, only one case has been resolved and that was through a plea bargain that averted a full trial. Australian David Hicks admitted training with al Qaeda in Afghanistan and finished a nine-month sentence in his homeland in December.

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