[JURIST] The chief judge for US military commissions [DOD materials] at the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detention center rejected [order and defense response, PDF] Thursday the request of government prosecutors to delay the proceedings against alleged USS Cole plotter Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri [GlobalSecurity profile; JURIST news archive]. Prosecutors had sought the delay in response to an executive order [text, PDF; JURIST report] issued last week by President Barack Obama ordering the closure of the Guantanamo Bay military prison within one year, and instructing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates immediately to halt the military commission proceedings pending a comprehensive review of all Guantanamo detentions under the supervision of the Attorney General. In his order, US Army Colonel James Pohl [JURIST news archive] wrote:
On its face, the request to delay the arraignment is not reasonable. The public interest in a speedy trial will be harmed by the delay in the arraignment. Granting the continuance do [sic] not serve the interests of justice. The government request for a continuance in the arraignment until after 22 May 2009 is DENIED.Pentagon officials were stunned by Pohl's ruling [Miami Herald report] and indicated that they were reviewing the ruling.
Al-Nashiri is accused of terrorism, attempted murder, and providing material support to terrorism for his alleged role in planning the 2000 al Qaeda attack [DOD report] on the USS Cole [official website; JURIST news archive]. He was charged in June [JURIST report] under the Military Commissions Act of 2006 [text, PDF; JURIST news archive] and faces the death penalty if found guilty at his military commission.