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Alleged 9/11 conspirators ask to plead guilty at Guantanamo military commission hearing

[JURIST] Five Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the self proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks [JURIST report], indicated at a military commission pre-trial hearing on Monday that they wished to plead guilty to the charges against them. The judge, Army Col. Stephen Henley [DOD biography, PDF], read a letter from the defendants out loud in court that said they wanted to plead guilty and drop all defense motions, but did not indicate whether they would confess to specific acts. Four of the five defendants, including Mohammed, agreed to the statements in the letter [AP report], and the fifth remained to be questioned by the judge. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] issued a statement [press release] Monday calling for "a full and thorough factual inquiry to determine whether or not these pleas are voluntary."

Henley was assigned to the Mohammed trial last month, following the retirement [JURIST reports] of Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann [JURIST news archive]. The Pentagon approved death penalty charges against Mohammed and the four other suspects in May, and they were arraigned [JURIST reports] in June. In February, CIA Director Michael Hayden publicly acknowledged [JURIST report] that Mohammed had been subjected to waterboarding [JURIST news archive] during interrogation.

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