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Last Updated: Friday, 27 August, 2004, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Guantanamo hearing postponed
The building used for war crimes tribunals at Guantanamo Bay
The tribunals have been set up especially for terrorist suspects
The preliminary hearing at Guantanamo Bay of a man accused of being an al-Qaeda paymaster has been postponed.

Ibrahim Ahmed Mahmoud al-Qosi, 44, a Sudanese man captured in Afghanistan, is alleged to be a bomb maker and associate of Osama Bin Laden.

The presiding officer of a US military commission hearing his case agreed to give his lawyer more time to prepare.

Mr Qosi is one of four men held at the US naval base on Cuba who have appeared this week before the tribunal.

He is charged with conspiracy to commit war crimes, including attacking civilians, murder, destruction of property and terrorism.

Dramatic adjournment

The US claims he signed cheques for Bin Laden and was with him during the 11 September 2001 attacks.

The charges carry a life sentence.

On Friday Army Colonel Peter Brownback agreed to postpone his preliminary hearing until 4 October. He was not required to enter a plea.

Mr Qosi is the fourth man to face the court this week, following Australian David Hicks and Yemenis Salim Ahmed Hamdan and Ali Hamza al-Bahlul.

On Thursday a tribunal was adjourned in dramatic circumstances after Mr Bahlul dismissed his lawyer, and demanded the right to defend himself.

David Hicks (centre) at a hearing at Guantanamo Bay
David Hicks challenged the impartiality of the tribunal
His request is being considered by a general in Washington.

He also appeared to admit to being a member of al-Qaeda, though commission members were warned this should not be taken as evidence.

Earlier in the week Mr Hicks pleaded not guilty to war crimes charges in front of the commission and challenged the impartiality of the panel hearing the tribunal. His trial was set for 10 January.

Mr Hamdan, accused of being Bin Laden's chauffeur, challenged the proceedings on a number of counts, and declined to enter a plea until motions are filed in November.

The US is allowing all of the 600 or so inmates at Guantanamo Bay to challenge their detention, but so far only these four have been charged.

Legal challenges to the process are mounting - from human rights groups, civilian lawyers, and now from defendants themselves.


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