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UN rights experts urge civilian trials for 9/11 suspects

[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism Martin Scheinin [official website] on Tuesday urged the Obama administration to hold civilian trials for accused 9/11 conspirators, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [JURIST news archives]. Scheinin called [Reuters report] the military commissions [JURIST news archive] system "fatally flawed" and said that reforming the system would not help. Meanwhile, UN Special Rapporteur on torture Manfred Nowak [official profile, DOC] also argued that the suspects should face a civilian trial. A White House official said Monday that while a civilian trial for Mohammed may no longer be a realistic option, the Obama administration is working with lawmakers to allow for civilian trials [AP report] for other suspected terrorists.

On Sunday, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] released a full-page advertisement [image] in the New York Times, imploring President Barack Obama to fulfill his pledge to try suspected 9/11 terrorists in federal courts [JURIST report]. It was reported on Friday that White House advisers are considering recommending [JURIST report] that Mohammed be tried in a military court rather than through the civilian criminal justice system. Attorney General Eric Holder announced in November that Mohammed would be tried in a civilian court [JURIST report] in Manhattan, drawing intense criticism. Last month, Holder defended his decision [JURIST report] to charge suspected terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab [JURIST news archive], the so-called Christmas Day bomber, in US federal court. Holder, who has resisted calls from high-level Republicans [AP Report] to try Abdulmutallab in front of a military tribunal, said that the civilian criminal justice system was capable of handling his trial.

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