Fort Meade: Prisoners` religious objections to being touched by female guards at Guantanamo Bay are an attempt to stall proceedings in the death penalty trial of five men accused of a role in the Sept. 11 attacks, a US military commander testified on Thursday.
Judge Army Colonel James Pohl issued a temporary no-touch order in January. The order followed complaints from Muslim detainees that physical contact with women outside their immediate families violated their religious beliefs.
“I think it’s based on an attempt to stall these proceedings,” said Army Colonel David Heath, commander of the guard force at the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
“So you give no validity at all … to religious principles with respect to this issue?” asked Jim Harrington, an attorney for Ramzi Bin al Shibh, a Yemeni accused of wiring money to the Sept. 11 hijackers.
Heath said that before 2014, there had never been a complaint from any of the 107 Guantanamo detainees, all men, about being touched by female guards.
“We’re talking about a hand on an arm or shoulder,” said Heath, who was questioned for over three hours during the pre-trial hearing at Guantanamo Bay.