France court begins trial in absentia for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

[JURIST] A Paris court on Monday began a trial in absentia for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], the self-proclaimed architect of the 9/11 attacks [JURIST report], for his alleged involvement in a suicide bombing of a Tunisian synagogue [BBC report] located in Djerba in April 2002. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack, in which 21 people were killed. Mohammed, along with German national Christian Ganczarski [Global Jihad profile] and Tunisian citizen Walid Nouar, are accused of "complicity in attempted murder in relation to a terrorist enterprise" for their roles in the planning the attack, carried out by Nouar's brother Nizar Nouar. Among those killed were two French citizens, giving French courts jurisdiction under French law. Immediately prior to carrying out the attack, Nizar Nouar called both Mohammed and Ganczarski. Though Mohammed is the most well-known of the accused, Ganczarski is expected to be the focus of the trial, as he is accused of giving Nizar Nouar the final approval [AFP report] to commit the suicide attack.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed must be tried in absentia because he is currently held at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] military prison in Cuba in anticipation of his trial on charges relating to the 9/11 attacks. Last month, Mohammed and four other defendants said they wanted to withdraw all motions and plead guilty [JURIST report] to the charges against them relating to 9/11. The suspects later postponed their offers to plead guilty [JURIST report] after the judge required competency hearings for two of them.



 

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