Defense lawyers seek psych exam for accused 9-11 plotter

Miami HeraldJuly 16, 2009 

In seeking to examine whether accused 9-11 lieutenant Ramzi bin al Shibh is sane, Pentagon defense attorneys are turning to an Israeli-American and Cuban American exile as mental health experts.

The Pentagon's supervisor of the war court, Susan J. Crawford, has so far refused to fund one of the consultants, Ruben C. Gur. The other, Xavier Amador, has so far been banned from talking to bin al Shibh in the high-profile case that seeks the death penalty for five men accused as co-conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

So defense lawyers were seeking a court order for both in motions being argued at the military commissions on Thursday. No immediate ruling was expected.

Amador, a Cuban American clinical psychologist, has testified as an expert in the Unabomber and Zacarias Moussaoui cases. He immigrated to the United States in the early 1960s.

Gur, a psychologist, is a former Israeli soldier and leading expert in neuroimaging, the study of CT scans for signs of mental illness.

He works at the Brain Behavior Lab at the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania, served in the Israeli Army from 1965 to 1967 and acquired his advanced degrees at the University of Michigan.

Navy Cmdr. Suzanne Lachelier, bin al Shibh's Pentagon appointed defense lawyer, appealed to the case judge to fund the consultants in arguments that were partially censored on Thursday.

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