The first half of Monday morning’s hearings were dominated by discussion about the mold plaguing the defense team’s workspace in the Expeditionary Legal Complex.
According to Walid Bin Attash’s defense lawyer, William Montross, two members of the defense team have gone to the ER for “breathing difficulties” and a third’s arms are “all red” as a result of the exposure to the mold.
On Saturday, November 10, the defense team of Walid bin Attash—one of the men accused of war crimes related to 9/11—arrived to their on-island work space only to find their chairs, carpets, keyboards, and clothing covered in gray, fuzzy mold.
Montross argued that Judge Parrella should delay hearings to allow more preparation time lost in handling the mold, while wearing green chinos, a gray collared shirt, and “Harry Potter” tie—unusual for a courtroom where the dress code is otherwise suit and tie or a military service uniform—because his two suits had been covered in the mold, he said.
Montross said the government had a responsibility to maintain clean workspaces, given it was their decision to host the trial here in GTMO, rather than DC or anywhere else.
Since the workspace was declared off-limits on 0900 Sunday, except for emergencies or document removal, by military official, Brigadier General John Baker, officials have been working to find alternative spaces.
When the defense team arrived to the first proposed alternative site, the office was already occupied by a dead rat and rat feces under and around the desks, Montross said.
While it’s primarily the office of the defenders for bin Attash that is affected by the mold, the other teams are also affected to a lesser degree with mold in the hallways, floors, and ventilation system, other defense lawyers said.
The defense team has since found a different working space that will work in the interim, for information classified Secret or unclassified, still leaving them without a space to work with information that is classified “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information.”
While acknowledging the arguments and encouraging a better solution, Judge Parrella continued with the scheduled order of march, with the oral arguments of the bin Attash team slated for later in the week to allow more preparation time.