WASHINGTON (AFP) – A long-awaited trial on force-feeding practices at Guantanamo Bay, decried as torture by rights groups, begins Monday in Washington before a judge calling for openness and transparency.
It will mark the first time since terror suspects first arrived at the US naval base in southern Cuba nearly 13 years ago that a federal judge will hear a case about prison conditions and treatment.
US District Judge Gladys Kessler has rebuked the government’s “deeply troubling” request to hold the trial behind closed doors.
In May 2013, at the height of an unprecedented hunger strike, President Barack Obama had asked: “Is that the America we want to leave our children?”
“Our sense of justice is stronger than that,” added the president, who has called for the internationally denounced prison camp to be shuttered but has struggled to do so in the face of fierce opposition at home in Congress and reluctance from allies to host the terror suspects in third countries.
Among the 149 detainees still held there is Abu Wa’el Dhiab of Syria, who has been held without charge or trial since 2002 and was cleared for release in 2009. He has protested his detention regularly through hunger strikes.