Lawyers leading the case against Hambali say more time is needed to prepare as the defense criticizes delays.
Medan, Indonesia – Military prosecutors in Guantanamo Bay have suggested that the full trial of Hambali, who has been jailed for attacks that killed hundreds in Indonesia, will begin in March 2025, even though he and his two co-defendants have been in prison for 17 years.
Hambali, an Indonesian whose real name is Encep Nurjaman, has been held in Guantanamo since 2006, along with his co-defendants, Malaysian nationals Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep and Mohammed Farik Bin Amin.
Hambali is accused of involvement in the 2002 Bali bombings, which killed more than 200 people, including US citizens, and the 2003 JW Marriott hotel attack in Jakarta, which killed 11 people.
The Indonesian’s lead attorney, James Hodes, told Al Jazeera that his client was doing “the best he could” given this lengthy detention and that the proceedings “went as well as we could expect and the judge and observers got to hear a lot about the problems we had.” are confronted”.
Those issues included problems with interpreters, which Hodes said took up almost all of the third day of proceedings, as well as the testimony of Imam Samudra, one of the original masterminds of the 2008 Bali attack carried out in Indonesia.
According to Hodes, US authorities did not question Samudra while he was alive, and his testimony could mean that his client was acquitted.
“Imam Samudra appeared to be the mastermind behind the bombing and was available for an interview by the FBI, but he was not. That is not the way crimes should be investigated. The authorities are expected to look at all options,” Hodes told Al Jazeera.
In addition to the challenges of missing exculpatory testimonies, Hodes said the lack of a speedy trial was difficult for the defense team, which has always maintained Hambali’s innocence.
“We are now two years after the indictment and 20 years after the fact and the prosecution is still not done with discovery,” Hodes said.
The discovery process is when both parties exchange documents prior to a trial and usually the prosecution would provide such material to the defense once a case begins. For Hambali, the official process to bring him to justice began in 2019, but has yet to be completed some five years later.
In the most recent hearings, the prosecution asked for a trial date of March 2025, with the judge still to rule.
Hodes told Al Jazeera the defense team was “ready” for a lawsuit, but added that more delays seemed likely.
The existing Army-appointed judge, Army Colonel Charles Pritchard, will transfer with a new judge to take over.
“It’s problematic when a judge has to leave every time he knows about the case,” he said.