Report: Guantanamo Bay terror trial judge agrees with two Malaysians’ assertion that translators bias

·3-min read
File photo shows an unidentified detainee walking in the excercise yard of the 'Camp 6' detention facility at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. — AFP pic
File photo shows an unidentified detainee walking in the excercise yard of the 'Camp 6' detention facility at the US Naval Station in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. — AFP pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 — Two Malaysians and an Indonesian chalked up a “small victory” during their terrorism trial in Guantanamo Bay, when the court agreed that their Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesian interpreters were biased.

According to The Star, Malaysians Mohammed Nazir Lep and Mohammed Farik Amin, alongside Indonesian Encep Nurjaman, who is better known by his nom de guerre Hambali, had refused to enter a plea as they believed that their interpreters were biased, which in turn had led to inaccurate translations during the trial on August 30 and 31 last year.

Following that, the US government was ordered to submit a fresh arraignment with new interpreters before allowing the trio to enter their plea.

The report mentioned that military judge Hayes C. Larsen ordered the US government to provide new interpreters by February for the hearing that was scheduled from February 28 until March 4.

“The interpreters will possess appropriate security clearance while also being screened for potentially disqualifying work histories.

“The government will also coordinate with the Office of the Military Commission for an analysis of the Malaysian interpretation during last year’s hearing by an independent interpreter before February 8, 2022,” Larsen was quoted as saying.

Larsen reportedly said that interpreters will possess appropriate security clearances and be screened for potentially disqualifying work histories.

“The government will coordinate with the Office of the Military Commission for an analysis of the Malaysian interpretation of last year’s hearing by an independent interpreter before February 8, 2022,” he added.

He also mentioned that the Malaysian interpreter identified by the US government for the upcoming hearing was the same as the previous one, while adding that the state had proposed to only use one interpreter for each Bahasa Malaysia and Indonesian language.

“This is inadequate and, therefore, the government will identify two interpreters per language for future hearings,” he added.

Larsen also reportedly said that the defence have only until February 8 to file any objection against the interpreters proposed by the government in its support plan.

The report said that Nazir’s lead counsel Brian Bouffard said that the defence was pleased that the commission will now take the case more seriously and look at the situation more transparently.

“And that is a minor victory by itself. We continue to believe that a proper arraignment has not occurred in this case and, therefore, all future hearings will be null and void unless this problem is fixed.

“Sooner or later, the US will have to respect the rule of law, and araign my client correctly and with a recognition of his human dignity and legal rights,” Bouffard was quoted as saying in the report.

When asked about Nazir’s mental state, Bouffard said that Nazir was grateful that the world has not forgotten him or those held there with him and have always hoped for a fair trial.

“We are deeply appreciative of any efforts by the Malaysian government to help make this happen,” he said.

Mohammed Nazir and Mohammed Farik were reported to have been recruited by Encep to serve as intermediaries in the transfer of money used to fund notorious South-east Asian terror group Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) that had ties to al-Qaeda.

JI has been held responsible for the suicide bombings in Bali which killed 202 people in 2002, and Jakarta’s JW Marriot Hotel in August 2003 which killed 11 and wounded more than 80.

All three were captured in Thailand in 2003 and transferred to CIA “black sites,” where they were brutalised and subjected to torture, according to a Senate Intelligence Committee report released in 2014. In 2006, they were moved to Guantanamo.

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