Guantanamo hearing for mastermind of Sept 11 attacks to resume

WASHINGTON (DPA) – Crucial pre-trial hearings for the accused mastermind of the Sept 11, 2001 attacks and four other men alleged to have played key roles in helping carry out the passenger plane hijackings will resume on Monday (Sept 9) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The hearings come just days before the United States is set to hold memorial services for the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda 18 years ago.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a Pakistani national, is accused of being the mastermind and a high ranking Al-Qaeda operative.

He has been in US custody since 2003 and was transferred to Guantanamo Bay prison in 2006.

Mohammed, who confessed to being involved in the capture and murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was subjected to extensive torture and was waterboarded 183 times.

The procedure simulates a drowning experience.

Lawyers for the defence are arguing that any confessions or other material should be invalidated because of the torture and are likely to file motions to have the entire trial set aside.

The hearings come just weeks after Colonel Shane Cohen, the judge overseeing the military tribunal, set a trial date for January 2021.

The men could face the death penalty.

Jury selection for the trial would likely not start before mid-2020.

The tribunal overseeing the case of five defendants is a hybrid of federal and military justice system, the result of reforms enacted since the camp in Cuba became a prison for people captured during the so-called Global War on Terror.

There are still about 40 prisoners at the camp, most of them being held in indefinite detention.

The camp has housed more than 780 people over the years.

*story by The Staits Times