Watchdog Slams US Decision to Halt USS Cole Trial as ‘Farce’

Watchdog Slams US Decision to Halt USS Cole Trial as ‘Farce’
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WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – A judge’s decision to suspend the trial of a Saudi national accused in the 2000 attack on the USS Cole warship shows that the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay are nothing but a farce, Amnesty International said in a statement on Friday as other rights groups criticized the move.

“The military commissions at Guantanamo have been a farce since the beginning, and do nothing except delay justice,” Amnesty International USA’s Security with Human Rights Director Daphne Eviatar said in the statement. “Both the prison at Guantánamo and its ineffective military commissions should be shut down.

Earlier on Thursday, Col. Vance Spath ordered the proceeding against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri suspended until a separate court resolves a dispute over an October decision by Nashiri’s entire defense team to resign over an unspecified ethical conflict, according to published reports.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Nashiri for his role in the October 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in Yemen, which killed 17 US sailors.

The advocacy group Human Rights First (HRF) also said the decision to suspend the trial demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the military commissions.

“The commissions are untested and have a poor track record of success — a stark contrast to our federal court system, which has convicted individuals in over six hundred terrorism cases,” HRF said in a press release on Friday.

The release noted that the military commission trials established by former President George W. Bush have resulted in only eight convictions, four of which have been either totally or partially overturned.

Meanwhile, federal courts have produced more than 600 terrorism-related convictions in the same period, including 108 in which the defendant was captured abroad, the release added.

HRF also criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to keep Gitmo open and urged Congress to close facility and try inmates in federal courts.