9/11 Case Stalls as Prosecution Moves to Have Detainee’s Competency to Stand Trial Examined [UPDATED]

In quite an unexpected turn of events in the 9/11 case pre-trial motions hearing, this morning’s session came to a screeching stop almost as soon as it started.  As I mentioned in my post yesterday, the commission was set to return first thing this morning to the emergency motion raised by defense counsel for Ramzi Bin al Shibh, Lt. Cmdr Kevin Bogucki, about the alleged treatment to which Bin al Shibh was subjected by the JTF-Gitmo guards.  After Judge Pohl disposed of a few procedural necessities to start this morning’s hearing, the prosecution quickly moved to have Bin al Shibh examined for competency to stand trial, which was granted over objection from Bin al Shibh’s attorney.

As a result, pursuant to Rule 706, Bin al Shibh’s mental capacity to stand trial must now be determined by a neutral competency board.  And the remainder of the hearings will be put on hold until the competency examination–which could take months–can be made.  Judge Pohl specifically said that the now-scheduled February hearings will remain on the calendar–although these could be pushed back, if Bin al Shibh’s examination is still ongoing.  Regardless, the case looks to be effectively stalled for the time being, with no additional (open) hearings expected for the remainder of the week.

[UPDATE]: According to the Manual for Military Commission, under Rule 706, the examining board determining Bin al Shibh’s competency, in addition to making a clinical psychiatric diagnosis of the detainee, must also make distinct and separate findings:

(i) At the time of the alleged criminal conduct, did the accused have a severe mental disease or defect? (The term “severe mental disease or defect” does not include an abnormality manifested only by repeated criminal or otherwise antisocial conduct, or minor disorders such as nonpsychotic behavior disorders and personality defects.)

(ii) Was the accused, at the time of the alleged criminal conduct and as a result of such severe mental disease or defect, unable to appreciate the nature and quality or wrongfulness of his or her conduct?

(iii) Is the accused presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering the accused unable to understand the nature of the proceedings against the accused or to conduct or cooperate intelligently in the defense? Other appropriate questions may also be included.

As any other updates are announced, we’ll be following closely and keep you in the loop. For the most up-to-date alerts, be sure follow us on twitter @just_security. 

About the Author(s)

Thomas Earnest

Former Managing Editor of Just Security (2013-14) Follow him on Twitter (@thomasdearnest).