9/11 accused Ali Abdul Aziz Ali aka Ammar al Baluchi’s lawyer James Connell has said that the military commissions trying Guantanamo Bay detainees are an unjust system, and that the facility’s commander has ordered that all mail between the client and lawyer be read, which is a violation of his client’s rights.
Addressing a press conference at the media operations center in Guantanamo Bay, on the eve of the arraignment hearing of Khalid Shaikh Mohammad and the four co-accused in the 9/11 case, James Connell said that the military commissions are unjust and designed for two purposes: “To hide evidence of the years in which the United States abandoned its principles for a system of institutionalised torture, and to impose the death penalty without providing protections of the Constitution of the United States.”
Ammar al Baluchi, who is also Mohammad’s nephew, is facing charges of conspiracy, attacking civilians, murder in violation of the law of war, hijacking an aircraft and terrorism. If convicted, he would face the death penalty.
Connell claimed that the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo commander had also ordered monitoring of attorney-client communications by intelligence and law enforcement officials. He added that the confinement of his client on a remote military base, lack of access to telephonic and electronic communication are a violation of his client’s right to have a good attorney-client communication, essential to his defence.
However, Chief Prosecutor Brigadier General Mark Martins, speaking to the press, said that there were examples of “robust and functional” attorney-client relationships at Guantanamo. He added that detainees have opportunities to get the help of lawyers. “Having come to observe different legal systems around the world, what matters not is majesty of physical surroundings, but wisdom of court and quality of justice. I am confident that this court can achieve justice and fairness, even though it is an austere and modern setting.”
Ammar al Baluchi was arrested in Karachi in 2003, and reportedly held at a CIA secret prison. He was transferred to Guantanamo Bay in 2006.