End to secret censorship of Gitmo court ordered

Updated 03 February 2013
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End to secret censorship of Gitmo court ordered

GUANTANAMO BAY US NAVAL BASE, Cuba: A US military judge on Thursday ordered the government to dismantle a monitoring system that let outside censors halt the public broadcast of hearings for Guantanamo prisoners accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks.
The closed-circuit broadcast feed was cut for a few minutes during a pretrial hearing at the Guantanamo Bay US Naval Base on Monday for the self-described mastermind of attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four co-defendants.
The cutting of the feed revealed for the first time that a still unidentified entity outside the courtroom was listening in to proceedings with a finger on the kill switch. The judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, was incensed.
“It is the judge that controls the courtroom,” Pohl said in giving his ruling. “This is the last time ... any other third party will be permitted to unilaterally decide that the broadcast should be suspended.”
The feed was cut when Mohammed’s lawyer, David Nevin, mentioned a defense request to preserve the secret CIA prisons where the defendants had been held before being brought to Guantanamo.
Pohl said on Tuesday the feed had been cut without reason because the information in question was not secret, and a transcript of the censored portion was later released.
Spectators watch tribunal hearings from behind a soundproof glass wall at the rear of the courtroom at Guantanamo. They hear the sound on a 40-second delay, through a feed that also provides sound and video to journalists in the Guantanamo press center and to a couple of closed-circuit viewing sites on the US East Coast.
A court security officer sitting next to the judge controls a button that muffles the feed with static and flashes a red light when secret information is disclosed.
After meeting privately with the lawyers, including prosecutors who seemed well aware of the outside monitoring, Pohl said an “original classification authority” had the ability to monitor the courtroom and cut the feed.
Pohl did not identify that authority but it would be whichever agency or officer had originally classified information about the CIA prisons as secret. Pohl ordered that monitoring system be removed on Thursday and said emphatically that he and the court security officer were the only ones with authority to suspend the broadcast.
The chief prosecutor, Brigadier General Mark Martins, is the government’s top-ranking representative at the trial and said his team would comply with the judge’s order. He refused to say who cut the feed or where they were listening from.
The hearings adjourned as scheduled on Thursday and will resume on Feb. 11.
They will then consider an emergency request that further hearings be halted until it can be ascertained whether someone was also eavesdropping on defense attorneys’ conversations among themselves and with their clients. Nevin said defense lawyers have a duty to ensure those are confidential.
Defense lawyers have long suspected their conversations were being monitored and “after this week, the paranoia level has kicked up a notch,” said James Connell, who represents defendant Ali Abdul Aziz Ali.
After Thursday’s hearing, another of the defense lawyers, Commander Walter Ruiz, said: “Is this a system that we can believe in? Who is pulling the strings? Who is the master of puppets?”
The defendants are charged with training, funding and aiding the Al-Qaeda hijackers who slammed commercial jets into US buildings in 2001, killing 2,976 people. They could be executed if convicted of charges that include murdering civilians, terrorism and hijacking.
FROM: REUTERS


Protests across Spain as sexual abuse gang released on bail

Demonstrators shout slogans as they take part in a protest rally in Valencia on June 22, 2018, a day after a court ordered the release on bail of five men sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually abusing a young woman at Pamplona's bull-running festival. (AFP)
Updated 23 June 2018
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Protests across Spain as sexual abuse gang released on bail

  • All five, aged between 27 and 29, were convicted of sexual abuse in April but were acquitted of the more serious crime of sexual assault
  • Thousands of people had already protested in Pamplona, Bilbao, Barcelona and other cities on Thursday after the court issued its ruling

MADRID: Protesters hit the streets across Spain for the second day running on Friday, after five men sentenced to nine years in prison for sexually abusing a young woman at Pamplona’s bull-running festival were released on bail.
The men, who called themselves “The Pack” in a WhatsApp messaging group, had been accused of raping a woman, then 18, on July 7, 2016, at the start of the week-long San Fermin festival, which draws tens of thousands of visitors.
All five, aged between 27 and 29, were convicted of sexual abuse in April but were acquitted of the more serious crime of sexual assault — which includes rape — as the court did not consider the victim to have been subjected to intimidation or violence.
The men appealed their jail terms and a Pamplona court on Thursday ordered the five to be released on bail of 6,000 euros ($7,000) pending the outcome of the appeal.
Thousands of people of all ages demonstrated outside the justice ministry in central Madrid on Friday evening, shortly after the five men left jail after spending nearly two years in custody.
“I was stunned” by the court ruling, Aratz Beranoaguirre, a geologist, told AFP at the Madrid protest.
“Men have been educated with the idea that we can do anything, and with this ruling we have seen that you can rape and nothing happens.”
The crowd chanted: “They don’t believe us if they don’t kill us.”
Other protests were held in the southern city of Seville, the hometown of the five men, Pamplona — where the crowd held a large banner that read: “No is no. Justice!” outside of city hall — Granada, and elsewhere.
Thousands of people had already protested in Pamplona, Bilbao, Barcelona and other cities on Thursday after the court issued its ruling.
Women’s groups took to social media to call the protests with the slogan: “If the pack hits the streets, we will as well.”
Marches after the verdict in April brought tens of thousands of protesters out on to the streets.

“It is not fair that they are released with a sentence of nine years, and just a few days before San Fermin, they can even go there,” said Lucia Rodriguez, a 60-year-old protester in Madrid, referring to the upcoming running of the bulls festival which gets underway on July 6.
In its decision on Friday, the Navarre court said the five had been allowed out on bail because the social pressure on them made it “practically unthinkable” they would risk re-offending.
The men will remain under judicial monitoring. They have had their passports withdrawn and must report to court three times a week.
They are also banned from traveling to Madrid, where the victim lives.
One of the men is a policeman with the Guardia Civil — who is currently suspended — and another was once in the army. Several are “ultras” or hardcore fans of FC Sevilla.
The fact that the men videoed the attack on their smartphones and bragged about it within their WhatsApp group added to the outrage over the case.

The mayor of Pamplona, Joseba Asiron, said Friday his office would appeal the decision to release them, saying there was “a growing distance... between society itself and certain decisions taken by the courts.”
An online petition calling for the five to be kept behind bars had garnered 657,000 names by Friday night.
New socialist Justice Minister Dolores Delgado has not commented on the court decision, speaking only of a need to “change mentalities.”
The first step announced by the government of Pedro Sanchez, who took office earlier this month at the head of cabinet that includes 11 women, was to train magistrates in awareness about violence against women.
Noelia Garcia, 41, said she did not trust that the situation would change with a new government dominated by women.
“That is not enough. There needs to be a reform of the judicial system. Judges from another era need to be replaced,” she added at the Madrid protest.