Pentagon has until Wednesday noon to answer force-feeding suit

July 3, 2013 at 9:55 AM

WASHINGTON, July 3 (UPI) -- A federal court in Washington, D.C., gave the Pentagon until noon Wednesday to respond to a challenge to the force-feeding of inmates held at Guantanamo.

A motion filed by attorneys for dozens of captives at the military prison camp seeks to end the "grotesque" practice, The Miami Herald reported.

The forced feeding has no "legitimate penological interest," attorneys Jon B. Eisenberg of California and Cori Crider of the human rights group Reprieve said in a 30-page filing Sunday. "It facilitates the violation of a fundamental human right. The very notion of it is grotesque."

Some 44 inmates are designated for forced feeding after they fell ill during a hunger strike, a prison spokesman said. About 106 of the 166 inmates at the prison are taking part in the strike, and two are being force fed at the prison hospital, the military says.

The lawyers want a speedy hearing because Ramadan, a monthlong dawn-to-dusk fast observed by Muslims, begins next week.

Army Col. Greg Julian defended the forced feedings, saying the military follows approved policy by the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Justice Department lawyers have successfully argued in previous Guantanamo-related suits that civilian judges do not have jurisdiction over conditions at the prison camp.

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