Judge resets USS Cole bombing case to Nov. 9

Miami HeraldOctober 6, 2011 

The chief war court judge Thursday delayed until Nov. 9 the Guantánamo Bay arraignment of a Saudi-born captive accused of orchestrating the 2000 attack on the Navy warship USS Cole off Yemen that killed 17 American sailors.

Defense attorneys sought the new war court appearance, apparently because a member of the team had a scheduling conflict.

That means there will be no penalty for arraigning Saudi-born Abd al Rahim al Nashiri more than 30 days after a senior Pentagon official approved capital charges in the case, which alleges Nashiri planned the attack by two suicide bombers in an explosives-laden skiff off Aden, Yemen, on Oct. 12, 2000.

It will mark Nashiri’s first public appearance at a military commission after nine years in secret CIA and military custody. The 46-year-old man, who was captured in the United Arab Emirates in 2002, could be executed if he’s convicted of murder in violation of the law of war and other war crimes.

The case is the lone active war crimes prosecution at the U.S. Navy base. Nashiri is represented by two U.S. military officers and a civilian attorney with death-penalty defense experience. A U.S. Navy lawyer and assistant U.S. attorney from Kansas have been preparing the government’s case.

Thursday, Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, serving as chief War Crimes prosecutor in his first week, assigned himself as a case prosecutor, too. A Pentagon spokesman could not immediately say whether Martins would be detailing himself to all commissions prosecutions or was taking a special role in this particular case.

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