Guantanamo prosecutors pushing for 2014 trial for 9/11 case

Prosecutors are asking a military judge to set a September 2014 trial date for the 9/11 case, in a decision that could hinge on how deeply the defense is allowed to delve into details of the defendants’ treatment in CIA prisons.

Military prosecutors want to speed up the hearing schedule and
start the trial next autumn for the alleged mastermind of the
9/11 plot, Khlalid Sheikh Mohammed, and his four alleged
conspirators – all of whom will face the death penalty if they
are convicted, Reuters reported. 

The four men were arraigned on terrorism, murder, and other
charges in May 2012 – more than ten years after four commercial
airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and
a Pennsylvania field, killing 2,976 people.  

Since then, the Guantanamo court has scheduled weeklong pretrial
hearings about every six weeks, mostly to hear challenges by the
defense lawyers. However, some previous hearings were
cancelled due to computer problems and tropical storms on the
remote Caribbean base. 

 

There have also been pretrial hearings on whether military and
intelligence agents were spying on supposedly confidential
attorney-client discussions, an issue that is still unresolved.

In another weeklong pretrial hearing to begin on Monday, Colonel
James Pohl will hear the prosecution’s arguments for speeding up
the proceedings.

Prosecutors will push the judge to set firm deadlines for new
filings, hold month-long hearings to work through a backlog of
outstanding motions, and to start picking a jury for a trial to
take place on September 22, 2014.

The prosecution wrote in court filings that continuing at the
current pace “will result in litigation that is unnecessarily
prolonged and does not serve the interests of justice.”
 

In the documents, the prosecution said they have already given
the defense team most of their evidence, including 170,000 pages
of unclassified information. They will hand over their secret
evidence once all five defense teams have signed up to
‘memorandums of understanding’ to make sure the evidence is
safeguarded as secret.

James Connell, a defense attorney who has signed a memorandum of
understanding, said that prosecutors have not handed over any
evidence that will be most in contention, which relates to the
years the defendants were held in CIA custody.

So far, 80 percent of the evidence received by the defense teams
relates to the destruction caused by the attacks themselves and
business records relating to the hijackers – matters that are not
in dispute.


“The CIA and [Defense Department] have revealed far more
information about what happened during that time to the makers of
[Hollywood film] ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ than they’ve revealed to
us,”
Connell said.

The CIA cooperated with the makers of the movie about the hunt
for Osama Bin Laden, and has admitted that one character was
based on Connell’s client Ammar al Baluchi – an alleged Al-Qaeda
money mover who is the nephew alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed. 

In this courtroom drawing reviewed and approved for release by a US military security official, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed sits in court on May 5, 2012 at the US Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (AFP Photo / Janet Hamlin) 

In the film, CIA interrogators string up the character with a
rope, waterboard him, and stuff him into a coffin-like box. The
CIA has not acknowledged using those techniques on Baluchi, but
has admitted using them on other prisoners.

Defense lawyers insist that they cannot prepare adequately for
trial unless they know what happened to the five men between
their capture in 2002 and 2003, and their transfer to Guantanamo
in 2006. Once they determine that information, they say it will
take them a couple of years to investigate it, making sure it has
not been tainted by torture. If it has, the information cannot be
used in court.

Republished from: RT