Update to this story.
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A U.S. military judge agreed Monday to postpone the next court hearings at the Guantanamo Bay prison for five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks to avoid a conflict with the Muslim holy period of Ramadan.
The judge issued a short order postponing the next pretrial hearings at the U.S. base in Cuba until Aug. 22-26 at the request of all five defendants, said James Connell, a lawyer for one of the accused.
The hearings had been scheduled to run from Aug. 8-12, which fall during the last 10 days of Ramadan, a period in which devout Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night. That would make it difficult for the accused to participate in their defense, said Connell, a lawyer for Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali.
“It’s very difficult to pay attention to sometimes intricate legal proceedings when you haven’t had any sleep and you haven’t had any food,” Connell said.
The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, denied a defense request not to hold any future hearings in the case on Fridays, a day on which many Muslims do not work and his order does not mention what will happen if future hearings fall during the month of Ramadan. The judge did not explain his decisions in the brief ruling.