The strange action came on the second day of a weeklong series of hearings addressing a range of pre-trial legal issues in the military commission trial of alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Mr. Bin Al-Shibh, and three others at the US Naval Base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
The hearings are being monitored by news reporters at Guantánamo and via a live video feed at Fort Meade, Md.
Bin al-Shibh was the only defendant of the five who chose to attend Tuesday’s hearing. The four other co-defendants waived their right to be present at the hearing and opted instead to remain in their cells at the terror detention camp.
Bin al-Shibh did not describe his “problem” in detail, but whatever happened in the holding cell during the lunch break was enough to convince him to ask to return to his cell.
After consulting with his client, defense lawyer James Harrington said there were underlying problems with detention camp guards that Mr. Harrington said he would seek to resolve with camp officials.
“Sometimes things build up and build up and build up, and that is what happened in this case,” he told the judge.
Another of Bin al-Shibh’s lawyers, US Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Bogucki, noted that the judge had earlier issued an order to the guard force at the detention camp in response to complaints from Bin al-Shibh about noises and vibrations in his cell.
Government lawyers said at the time that there was no evidence that Bin al-Shibh was being subjected to intentional noises and vibrations. But Judge Pohl nonetheless issued an order asking camp officials to stop doing anything that might be causing such a problem.