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Judge silent on Guantanamo force feeding case

Agence France Press
February 11, 2009

WASHINGTON (AFP) — A US federal judge on Wednesday rejected calls from two Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers to end forced-feeding at the prison, leaving the issue for the new US administration to resolve.

Judge Gladys Kessler said she lacked jurisdiction in the case, which was brought by Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bawazir and Omar Khamis Bin Hamdoon.

Their complaint focused on the authorities' use of a "restraint chair" that involves feeding a tube through a detainee's nostril into his stomach.

"Petitioners insist that the use of the chair on a compliant detainee amounts to such unnecessary and painful restriction that it is tantamount to torture," Kessler said in a written ruling.

"Resolution of this issue requires the exercise of penal and medical discretion by staff with the appropriate expertise and is precisely the type of question that federal courts, lacking that expertise, leave to the discretion of those who possess such expertise," she wrote.

Forty-one of the estimated 240 detainees at Guantanamo are on hunger strike, said Pauline Storum, a spokeswoman for the prison. Of those, 35 are fed with a high-protein liquid injected by tube into their stomach.

The two detainees complained that during the feedings they were firmly fastened to a restraint chair with straps across their arms, legs, chest and forehead for about an hour.

They said they were not opposed to be being force fed, which made the use of restraints unnecessary.

They also charged that hunger strikers were not receiving appropriate medical attention for problems, unless they end their fast.

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