GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - An Afghan detainee was dragged from his cell yesterday to his first pretrial hearing at Guantanamo, then refused to participate, telling the judge he felt "helpless."
Mohammed Kamin joined a growing detainee boycott of the war-crimes trials at Guantanamo. The military judge, Air Force Col. W. Thomas Cumbie, said Kamin tried to bite and spit on a guard on the way to the courtroom.
In his first court appearance since arriving at Guantanamo in 2004, Kamin wore a heavy beard and the orange uniform reserved for uncooperative prisoners, his ankles shackled above his sneakers.
Kamin is accused of placing missiles near U.S.-occupied areas in Afghanistan. He allegedly trained as an al-Qaeda operative in 2003 and spied on U.S. military bases before he was captured later that year.
He denied any connection with al-Qaeda or the Taliban and said the charges against him were lies.
"The trials are yours, the courts are yours. How can I trust you? I don't expect anything good from you," he said through a Pashto translator. "... You have the force."
As the judge asked whether he understood his rights, Kamin said he put his trust only in Allah. "I wait for his decision; that is enough," he said.
Kamin was the sixth detainee to announce a boycott of the war-crimes trials. Only one inmate, Canadian Omar Khadr, is fully cooperating with his defense team.
The rules for the first American war-crimes trials since World War II require detainees to appear for arraignment, voluntarily or by force. If they refuse to attend the trial itself, they can be tried and convicted in absentia, as Cumbie warned Kamin.
Only one other detainee has been carried out of his cell after refusing to voluntarily make an initial court appearance.
If convicted on the charge of supporting terrorism, Kamin faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
The U.S. military says it plans to prosecute roughly 80 of the 270 men imprisoned at Guantanamo on suspicion of links to terrorism, the Taliban or al-Qaeda.
None of the cases have actually gone to trial before the tribunals, known as military commissions, that the Bush administration created in 2006 after the Supreme Court struck down an earlier system as unconstitutional.