The judge presiding over the trial of the man allegedly behind the USS Cole bombing on Wednesday found the head of the war court defense team guilty of contempt, the Miami Herald reported.
Air Force Col. Vance Spath sentenced Marine Brig. Gen. John Baker to 21 days confinement and ordered him to pay a $1,000 fine for refusing to follow his orders.
Spath’s decision centers around Baker’s move to release three civilian defense attorneys from the case. The three left earlier this month over a secret ethical conflict involving attorney-client privilege.
The judge declared Baker’s decision to release the lawyers “null and void” and ordered the attorneys to appear before him in person at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility or by video feed next week, according to the Herald.
Baker, the chief defense counsel for military commissions, refused to either testify in front of Spath or return the three lawyers to the case.
The USS Cole bombing in 2000 killed 17 U.S. sailors off Yemen, and the case was set to be the first death-penalty trial held at Guantanamo since the war crimes trial system changed following 9/11.
Attorney Rick Kammen, the lead defender for alleged bombing mastermind Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, was released from the case by Baker.
Baker also gave permission for Rosa Eliades and Mary Spears to quit.
The case can’t proceed without the attorneys.
Baker tried to defend his actions, arguing that the war court is meant to try alleged terrorists, not U.S. citizens, and therefore had no jurisdiction over him.
Spath said Baker was out of line in invoking a privilege in refusing to testify about both the decision to release the three attorneys and their absence at the court. Spath ordered the three to come to Guantanamo this week. They refused.