USS Cole bomb suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri complains about treatment
Agence France-Presse in Fort Meade, Maryland
The main suspect in the USS Cole bombing appeared before a US military judge complaining of having to wear chains and endure attacks from guards at the jail in Guantanamo Bay.
Saudi national Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged mastermind of the deadly October 2000 attack in Yemen, stood before a special military court on Wednesday and said he had wanted to attend previous hearings but "the one thing that would prevent me from coming is the chains and the security measures".
The defendant in the death penalty case, his hair short, his face freshly shaven and wearing a tunic and white trousers with a grey suit jacket, alleged that prison guards were mistreating him.
"In my prison … there are attacks on me under the so-called security measures," he said, according to a retransmission of the hearing shown to reporters and relatives of the attack's victims at a Maryland military base.
"I'll let the world know that the judge sentenced me to death because I didn't show up due to chains," he said, speaking in Arabic.
This was day two of a three-day preliminary hearing. Nashiri waived his right to attend the first day in protest at having to wear chains while being transported to the court room. He said his refusal to appear on Tuesday and earlier, in July, was "because of the ill-treatment of the guards".
"They say security, [but] they can't do anything in the name of security, that's impossible. Security must have a limit."
He thanked the judge for giving him an opportunity to speak, saying no one had heard "for 10 years what I have to say today".
After the judge read Nashiri his rights to be present to hear the case against him, the defendant promised to come to all future hearings, on condition of better treatment.
Nashiri, like the September 11 suspects held at Guantanamo, was subjected to harsh interrogations while being held at a secret CIA prison in Poland, former CIA director Michael Hayden has acknowledged.
An alleged associate of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Nashiri has been in US custody since 2002. The US is seeking the death penalty for the 47-year-old, who is accused of directing the suicide attack in Yemen that left 17 sailors dead.
Militants rammed an explosives-laden skiff into the side of the Cole in Aden, blowing a 10-by-10-metre hole in the destroyer and nearly sinking it. Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility.