An attorney for a Guantanamo Bay detainee has asked a judge to block a planned medical procedure on the prisoner’s heart, saying that performing it at the base puts his life at risk.
Saifullah A. Paracha, a multimillionaire businessman from Karachi, Pakistan, has already had one heart attack while in U.S. custody in Afghanistan, his lawyers said. Doctors plan to perform a cardiac catheterization on Paracha at Guantanamo this month, a government official said.
But attorney G.T. Hunt on Tuesday asked a court in Washington to block it, saying Guantanamo lacks the medical facilities and backup in case anything went wrong.
“There is no excuse for risking petitioner Paracha’s life by subjecting him to this procedure at Guantanamo,” Hunt said in an emergency application filed with the federal court. A copy of the petition was provided to The Associated Press.
During a cardiac catheterization, a doctor inserts a thin plastic tube into an artery or vein in the arm or leg and pushes it into the chambers of the heart or into the coronary arteries to measure blood pressure within the heart and oxygen levels in the blood. Hunt said it should be carried out in a hospital in the United States or Pakistan.
Army Lt. Col. Lora Tucker said from the base in southeastern Cuba that its medical facilities “are excellent.”
“We are committed to preserving the health and lives of all detainees,” Tucker said in an e-mail to AP.
She said it was against policy to discuss the health of a specific detainee, but added that additional specialists and medical equipment could be brought to the U.S. Navy base as needed.
“The situation could arise in which a detainee’s medical condition requires care beyond the capabilities at GTMO,” she said, referring to the base by its military acronym. “In such an instance, if the patient is stable, we will have specialists assess the situation. ... Recommendations include the possibility of sending necessary specialty teams with equipment to care for the detainee.”
There have been three deaths among detainees at Guantanamo since it began taking in men captured in Afghanistan and other areas in January 2002. The three detainees committed suicide on June 10. Some 430 men are held at the prison camp.