Iraqi detainee reported suffering paralysis in Guantanamo
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba – A Marine Corps judge has ordered medical staff at a wartime prison to submit an emergency report on Friday on an Iraqi prisoner who suddenly became paralyzed and lost the ability to walk, according to his lawyer.
The prisoner, Abd al-Hadi al-Iraqi, 60, was found to have lost all emotion in his feet on Wednesday evening.
He has degenerative disc disease, and is the most physically disabled of the 39 detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He has undergone a series of spine surgeries in recent years by Navy medical teams, who were airlifted to a remote base.
“He no longer has the use of his legs,” his lawyer, Susan Hensler, said Friday. “He can’t even walk with a walker.”
Mr. Hadi, who says his real name is Nashwan al-Tamir, is accused of commanding Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan that committed war crimes against the US and allied forces around 2002–2004. If found guilty, he could face life imprisonment.
He was captured in Turkey in 2006 and held as a “high-value captive” by the Central Intelligence Agency, then transferred the following year to US military custody at Guantanamo Bay.
Even before his capture, according to his lawyers, he was diagnosed with spinal problems and signs of degenerative disc disease. His condition turned critical in 2017 when guards found him incontinence in his cell. The Pentagon sent a neurosurgical team to the base before Hurricane Irma arrived for the first five spine surgeries in nine months.
Mr Hadi is now dependent on a wheelchair and walker inside the prison, and a padded geriatric chair for support in court. The guards also keep a hospital bed inside the courtroom where he slept when heavy painkillers choked him.
Mr. Hadi’s case has highlighted the challenges for the Defense Department in managing aged prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
While American soldiers and other residents of the base are regularly sent to military health care facilities in the United States, the Pentagon has to bring specialist and sophisticated medical equipment for prisoners to Guantanamo because laws restrict their transfer to the United States. does. Reason – trial or imprisonment or not emergency health care.
The United States is obliged under the Geneva Convention to provide adequate health care to prisoners of war. Prison commanders have also claimed over the years that the care that Guantanamo detainees receive is comparable to that provided to US service members, and is often immediately available because medics are on duty at cellblocks round the clock.
However, defense lawyers said in an emergency filing on Thursday that Mr Hadi was informed that “expert treatment was not available for several weeks.”
Marine Judge Lt. Col. Michael D. Zimmerman in Mr. Hadi’s case ordered a report on Friday, saying that a routine health update filed in court last week listed “no significant change in the accused’s medical condition”. Military judges have mostly been reluctant to involve themselves in disputes over inmate medical care, with the exception of issues that interfere with a prisoner’s ability to work with lawyers.
The US military spokesman assigned to the prison and US Southern Command headquarters in Miami did not immediately comment on Mr. Hadi’s condition, including whether the pandemic had complicated efforts to care for him. Most of the prisoners have been vaccinated. There have been no known cases of inmates or inmates getting infected in the jail.
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