FT. MEADE, Md. — The start of a fresh round of pretrial hearings Monday in the military trial of the five alleged top Sept. 11 terror plotters was delayed after two of the men complained about legal restrictions and the judge for the first ordered the forced removal of one of them from the courtroom at the U.S. Naval Base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Further complicating the opening session of a weeklong period of hearings was that defense lawyer Cheryl Bormann appeared extremely hoarse and faint, and Judge James Pohl stopped the proceedings so she could be taken to an emergency room for evaluation.
The removal of defendant Ramzi Binalshib, the alleged pilot cell manager for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, came after more than a year of pretrial hearings that have been marked with intense infighting between military prosecutors and defense lawyers.
The defendants have periodically complained aloud and attempted to shut down the hearings, and the judge, an Army colonel, has repeatedly insisted he would not tolerate any misbehavior.
The judge ordered all five in the courtroom Monday morning, then began asking them if they wanted to attend the proceedings. The alleged plot mastermind, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, then read a complaint in Arabic saying he has not been allowed to properly meet with his defense team.
Judge Pohl admonished him about the complaint and then Mohammed, in a long, orange beard and camouflage attire, quieted down and said he would like to remain for the hearings.
Then Binalshib was even louder, and when the judge tried to calm him down, Binalshib shouted, "You cannot stop me from talking!"
Judge Pohl turned to Binalshib's lawyers and said, "He was warned not to be disruptive. He chose not to be quiet." He then ordered guards to remove him from the courtroom.