30 Jan 2009

Judge rejects request to halt trial at Guanatanamo

10:17 am on 30 January 2009

The chief military judge at the Guanatanamo Bay detention facility has rejected a request by President Barack Obama to suspend the trial of a detainee.

The BBC reports this could be a setback to Mr Obama's plans to close the facility.

Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, a Saudi citizen, is accused of planning the USS Cole attack in October 2000. He could face the death penalty.

Judge James Pohl said the request to halt the trial to allow a review by the new administration was "unpersuasive" and the trial would go ahead.

In one of its first actions, the Obama administration instructed prosecutors to ask for the trials of 21 detainees who had been charged to be delayed by 120 days.

In some cases, the request was quickly granted.

The USS Cole was attacked while moored off Yemen: 17 navy personnel were killed and 50 wounded.

Mr Obama ordered the review of military trials for terrorism suspects last week. He also ordered the closure of the Guantanamo detention centre within one year.

Some 250 inmates accused of having links to terrorism are held there.