News Column

US Military Court Resumes 9/11 Pre-trial Hearings

Jan 28, 2013

The accused plotters of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the United States appeared in court Monday for another round of pretrial hearings at the US naval base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Four days of hearings have been planned to address more pretrial motions in the case against the men accused in the suicide hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other defendants face the death penalty if convicted. The defendants, who have been imprisoned for years at Guantanamo, claim the military commission that is trying them is illegitimate and rigged to ensure guilty verdicts.

Mohammed is a former CIA captive who was captured in Pakistan and has been subjected to a form of torture. The other four are the accused trainers and financiers of the 19 men who hijacked four planes that were flown into the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon, just outside Washington. The fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

The last round of pretrial hearings was in October. Army Colonel James Pohl heard a handful of motions, including whether the defendants could waive their right to attend and what they were allowed to wear in the courtroom.

The issue of torture and abuse will likely play a role in the remaining pretrial hearings and in the trial itself.

Mohammed was captured in 2003 and kept in a secret CIA prison, where the intelligence agency has confirmed that he was subjected to waterboarding - a simulated drowning - 183 times. Evidence obtained by torture is not allowed in the court.

One of the other four defendants, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, is a nephew of Mohammed. The other defendants are Walid bin Attash, Mustafa al-Hawsawi and Ramzi Binalshibh.

They are charged jointly with conspiracy, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft, and terrorism.

The military is broadcasting the proceedings over closed circuit television to a handful of sites at military bases where journalists, relatives of the victims and interested members of the public can view them on a 40-second time delay.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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