USS Cole attorneys ask to question Saleh

Feb. 2, 2012 at 12:09 PM
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GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Attorneys for an alleged al-Qaida suspect accused in the USS Cole bombing say they want to question Yemen's president during his stay at a U.S. hospital.

Defense lawyers in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Tuesday asked a U.S. Army judge to order Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to undergo war court questioning, despite the State Department's declaration Saleh would have diplomatic immunity as head of state, The Miami Herald reported.

Abd al Rahim al Nashiri faces the death penalty if convicted of charges related to the deadly Oct. 12, 2000, attack off Yemen.

Saleh is being treated in the United States for burns he suffered last year in a bomb attack at his palace mosque during a popular uprising to remove him from power. He is expected to return home in time for Yemen's Feb. 21 presidential election, the newspaper said.

The USS Cole was on a refueling stop in the Gulf of Aden when two al-Qaida suicide bombers attacked the warship, killing themselves and 17 Americans. Pentagon prosecutors allege Nashiri orchestrated the bombing.

Defense lawyers argue Nashiri's case is tainted by torture at the hands of CIA agents before his transfer to the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo in September 2006.

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