GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba — A pretrial hearing in the Sept. 11 war crimes case started Thursday with an angry outburst from one of the defendants complaining about searches of his cell by guards at the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Walid bin Attash stood up to complain about the searches and sought to address the court but was repeatedly interrupted and told to sit down by the military judge, Army Colonel James Pohl.
Pohl cut him off and told his lawyers that the only way he could address the court would be to testify from the witness stand.
‘‘I’m not here to testify,’’ replied bin Attash.
Pohl, who has allowed the defendants to speak in court in past court appearances, halted him with a stern warning to defense attorney Cheryl Bormann. ‘‘I’m going to tell your client one more time to sit down or he will be taken out of the courtroom.’’
Bormann told the judge that her client was upset because guards had searched his cell while he was in court and confiscated legal papers related to his case. Defense attorney James Harrington, who represents defendant Ramzi Binalshibh, said the same thing also happened to his client. The chief prosecutor, Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, said officials were looking into the incident to find out what occurred.
Bin Attash, who is accused of providing logistical help to the Sept. 11 hijackers, sat down as members of his defense team appeared to calm him down.