WASHINGTON — A army decide on Tuesday indefinitely postponed the arraignment of three prisoners at Guantánamo Bay who have been scheduled to make their first court docket look in 17 years of detention, discovering that the coronavirus pandemic made it too dangerous to journey to the Navy base.
The Indonesian prisoner often known as Hambali, who has been held since 2003 as a former chief of a Southeast Asian extremist group, and two accused accomplices have been scheduled to seem on the struggle court docket on Feb. 22. But Col. Charles L. Pritchard Jr., the army decide who was to journey to Guantánamo this week, dominated that “the various counsels’ belief that their health is at significant risk by traveling” to the bottom was affordable.
Colonel Pritchard is the latest army decide to hitch the Guantánamo army commissions bench, and the most recent to postpone a continuing as too dangerous in practically a yr of cancellations over the coronavirus. Pretrial hearings within the death-penalty case in opposition to 5 males accused of plotting the Sept. 11, 2001, assaults have been delayed for a yr.
The decide, court docket personnel and attorneys certain for the listening to started a quarantine within the Washington space over the weekend earlier than a constitution flight to the bottom on Thursday.
Once there, the passengers have been to be individually quarantined for 14 days below a plan devised by prosecutors to guard these dwelling on the bottom of 6,000 residents and on the jail from the specter of an infection.
“The risk to the health and safety of participants in the arraignments due to the global Covid-19 pandemic is high,” the decide wrote in a seven-page order dated Tuesday. “The government’s proposed risk mitigation measures lower the risk, but the risk still persists.” He prompt that touring to the bottom may not be secure till summer season’s finish.
The case had been dormant all through the Trump administration, however on the second day of the Biden administration, a senior Pentagon official appointed below the Trump administration who had been put in command of the army commissions accepted the prosecutions.
The defendants embrace Mr. Hambali, who’s charged as Encep Nurjaman and is the previous chief of the extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah, and his accused accomplices, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, who’re Malaysian.
The three males have been captured in Thailand in 2003 and are charged with conspiring within the 2002 nightclub bombings in Bali, which killed 202 individuals, and the 2003 Marriott Hotel bombing in Jakarta, which killed at the least 11 individuals and wounded at the least 80. They spent their first three years within the C.I.A.’s secret prisoner community earlier than they have been transferred to Guantánamo for trial in 2006.
The army commissions guidelines require a detainee be delivered to court docket inside 30 days of the approval of prices however the decide’s ruling appeared to droop that clock.
Colonel Pritchard, who’s chief of the Army’s southeastern court docket circuit, needed to journey to Washington final week to quarantine earlier than touring to Guantánamo. He famous in his ruling that most individuals touring to the arraignments haven’t but been vaccinated in opposition to the virus, and neither have the prisoners.
He additionally famous Saturday’s resolution by the Biden administration to droop a plan to supply vaccines this week to the 40 detainees on the jail. Under the preliminary plan, the three defendants might have voluntarily acquired their pictures on Feb. 1 and their boosters in time for his or her Feb. 22 court docket date.
As of Tuesday, all the troopers and different service members who work on the jail operation had been provided the Moderna vaccine, stated Maj. Gregory J. McElwain, an Army spokesman, who declined to say how most of the estimated 1,500 troops avoided getting a shot. Navy medical personnel have been vaccinating volunteers among the many base’s residents in levels since Jan. 9.
This week, below the phased program, schoolteachers and international staff on the base commissary and bars have been provided the vaccines, as have been Marine forces who guard the perimeter of the bottom.
Prosecutors had proposed suspending the listening to to April 3. The decide wrote that he’ll problem a brand new arraignment order “in due course.”