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Guantanamo inmate’s case delayed

Court sketch of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

Court sketch of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri.

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A dispute over whether a defendant must be present during a military tribunal brought proceedings to a halt Tuesday in the case of a Guantanamo prisoner accused in the attack on the Navy destroyer USS Cole.

A potential hurricane raised the prospect of an even longer disruption.

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Defendant Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri decided to boycott the pretrial motions hearing to protest the use of belly chains to move him from his cell at the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Prosecutors wanted the 47-year-old prisoner brought to court to explain his reasoning on the record before any discussion of other motions in the case.

The defense objected, saying any use of force could traumatize a man who they say was tortured in US custody.

Complicating matters was Tropical Storm Sandy, which was forecast to grow into a hurricane as it heads north in the Caribbean Sea and possibly force the evacuation of the US naval base in Cuba.

The judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, decided after more than 90 minutes of debate that Nashiri must come to court Wednesday.

‘‘Tomorrow, weather permitting, your client is coming,’’ Pohl told the defense team, before the hearing was adjourned for the rest of the day.

The military was forced to postpone hearings and evacuate officials and visitors who came to Guantanamo for proceedings in August because of Tropical Storm Isaac.

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