But the complexities are magnified when it comes to Guantánamo, which in normal times is essentially a suburban court that opens with the arrival of the judge, lawyers, reporters, translators and other staff. aboard a charter plane from Joint Base Andrews outside of Washington.
In Guantánamo’s best-known case – the long-delayed trial of those accused in the September 11, 2001 plot – the government chose to prosecute five men simultaneously for conspiring in the attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people. Hearings typically require over 100 people at the base, including senior death row attorneys, some in their 60s, who live outside the Washington area and are now considered particularly at risk if they travel. in the pandemic.
Over the weekend, the Chief Justice of the War Tribunal, Army Col. Douglas K. Watkins, canceled plans to hold a preliminary hearing this week in the case of a confessed Qaeda courier Majid Khan, in a makeshift courtroom in Reston, Virginia. Given the rapid spread of the coronavirus, Col. Watkins said it was too risky to hold the hearing because he was traveling from Texas and two defense attorneys were from New York and Connecticut.
At the time he canceled it, one of Mr Khan’s attorneys, Army Col. Wayne J. Aaron, was completing two weeks of quarantine in a small trailer in Guantánamo so he could sit with the prisoner. in the courtroom and participate remotely.
Mr Khan, who grew up in suburban Baltimore, pleaded guilty in 2012. This week’s hearing was meant to discuss witnesses to his sentencing, which is scheduled for May in Guantánamo – after two weeks in quarantine for participants, followed by a week-long survey. hearing on the torture of the prisoner by the CIA
For the Khan hearing, the Pentagon had also set up a viewing site at Fort Meade, Md., For four socially distanced journalists to watch the proceedings in streams that would have switched between Guantánamo and Virginia. Generally, journalists can travel to Guantánamo to observe the hearings.