Lawyers for the three detainees also told the judge that in 2020 the court’s official Indonesian translator believed that “the government is wasting money on these terrorists; they should have been killed a long time ago,” he added that they had an affidavit from a witness who heard the comment. Prosecutors are demanding life sentences in the case.
Mr Bin Lep’s lawyer Brian Bouffard declared the Indonesian-American contract translator “irreparably biased”. Mr. Bin Amin’s lawyer, Christine Funk, questioned why the prosecutors needed an interpreter at all during the hearing: “Are they spying on us? I do not know.”
The trial judge, Navy Cmdr. Hayes C. Larsen, tried to fix the problems. He gave the court’s official translation team a 10-minute break every 20 minutes. He told defense attorneys to file legal motions if they believed there were interpretation issues that required solutions. And he postponed the reading of the indictment until Tuesday, which was the reason for Monday’s hearing.
Defense attorneys, both civilian and military, and all paid for by the Pentagon, described the case as still in its infancy. Prosecutors, they said, had provided perhaps 2 percent of the pre-trial documents to be used in the case, including reports of FBI interrogations of the detainees in 2007, shortly after they were transferred to military custody by the CIA. Prosecutors declined to comment.
Hambali’s attorney, James R. Hodes, called the case “absurd,” in part because of his client’s long detention and the nearly two-decade delay in filing charges against him. He told reporters before the hearing that Mr. Hambali had been “battered” and had spent at least half of his detention in solitary confinement. He said the prisoner was owed “apologies” and repatriation, “not to be held in a cage on a Caribbean island.”
Hearings in Guantánamo have mainly been held between English and Arabic, but have also faced translation issues. In 2015, one of the men accused of plotting the September 11 attacks blurted out a translator’s name in court — revealing that the linguist had previously worked for the CIA on a black site, exposing his identity and week of hearings derailed .