Trial of Accused 9/11 Mastermind Restarts, Days Before 20th Anniversary
i24 News – The prosecution of alleged September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others restarts Tuesday, just days before the 20th anniversary of the attacks.
Mohammed and his co-defendants, who have been locked up in the US naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for nearly 15 years, will appear at the military tribunal for the first time since early 2019.
But after a 17-month halt due to the coronavirus pandemic, the proceedings appear likely to continue where they left off, mired in the defense’s efforts to disqualify most of the government’s evidence as tainted by the torture the defendants underwent in CIA custody.
With scores of motions lined up to demand evidence that military prosecutors refuse to hand over, defense attorneys said the pretrial phase could easily last another year, placing far over the horizon any hope for a jury trial and verdict.
Attorneys say the five defendants — Mohammed, Ammar al-Baluchi, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al-Shibh and Mustafa al-Hawsawi — are all weak and suffer the lasting effects of severe torture endured in secretive CIA “black” sites between 2002 and 2006.
The five face the death penalty on charges of murder and terrorism.
They are represented by attorneys assigned by the military, as well as pro-bono lawyers from the private sector and non-governmental organizations.
The defense argues that the government has delayed and undermined the trial by repeatedly withholding relevant information.
Victims’ families, representing the nearly 3,000 people killed on September 11, will be present to observe the trial.