(A rooster held by Miami's Little Havana resident Jorge Manaricua (L) waits to be sacrificed as Santeria high priest (babalao) Eduardo Rodriquez (R) drains the blood of a hen on to representations of the god, Ochun August 3, 2000. REUTERS/Colin Braley)

A pending challenge to the jurisdiction of the Guantanamo war crimes tribunals relies in part on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the right of Santeria priests in Florida to sacrifice chickens during religious ceremonies.

The ruling was easily the most unusual cited last week in pretrial hearings for Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, a Saudi prisoner who could face the death penalty if convicted of orchestrating a suicide bomb attack that killed 17 U.S. sailors aboard the warship USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.

It was part of a larger defense argument that the U.S. military tribunals at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. naval base in Cuba violate the Constitutional guarantee to equal protection under the law because only non-U.S. citizens can be tried in the tribunals.

“Mr. Nashiri has been brought before this military tribunal under an act of Congress that says he uniquely will be deprived of his life in a way that someone who simply by the accident of where they were born as a citizen of the United States who could have done identical conduct would not be,” defense attorney Michel Paradis argued.