September 6 - Three weeks after the conclusion of a pretrial motions hearing for
two priests facing trial for their November, 2006 arrest at Ft.
Huachuca, U.S. Magistrate Hector Estrada issued his rulings on the
various motions before his Tucson, Arizona court. He denied the
defense requests for a jury trial and dismissal of the charges
against Jesuit Fr. Stephen Kelly and Franciscan Fr. Louis Vitale. He
also denied the government's motion to use Fr. Vitale's prior arrests
and convictions as prima facie evidence of trespass.
In a significant order that effectively gags the defense, Estrada
granted the government's motion in limine to preclude defenses. The
gag order forbids the defendants from introducing evidence at trial,
either documentary or testimonial, about: the defenses of duress,
justification, necessity, or self-defense; the morality or immorality
of the government's use of interrogation techniques, training of
soldiers in interrogation techniques; the legality of the wars in
Iraq or Afghanistan; any military actions to support interrogations
in any foreign countries; the legality of the Military Commission Act
of 2006; the defense of international law; or the wisdom of any
political question or government policy.
Magistrate Estrada also ordered Fr. Vitale to report to court on
September 21 for a hearing on his conditions of pretrial release.
Because of the unavailability of his attorney, Bill Quigley, on that
day, another date will be scheduled for the hearing. On August 13,
at the end of the pretrial motions hearing, Estrada sent Vitale to
the court's pretrial services for evaluation, after learning that the
priest had been cited a few days earlier for a Nagasaki Day
line-crossing at the Nevada nuclear weapons test site. At their
April arraignment, Estrada had ordered the two priests not to break
local, state or federal laws.
The two are charged with federal trespass and an Arizona state charge
of failure to comply with a police officer following their attempt to
speak with enlisted personnel and deliver a letter denouncing torture
and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to Major General Barbara
Fast, then commander at Fort Huachuca, on November 19, 2006. If
convicted of both charges, they each face ten months in prison.
A trial date is expected to be set later in September.
For more information, visit http://TortureOnTrial.org