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Chief Guantanamo judge sets trial date for 9/11 accused

The chief US military judge at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] assigned himself [memorandum, PDF] on Monday to preside over the tribunals of five alleged plotters of the 9/11 terror attacks [JURIST backgrounder]. Army Col. James Pohl scheduled the hearing for May 5, only a few days after the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden [JURIST report]. The five men facing trial include alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shiekh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], who claimed responsibility [BBC report] for planning the terrorist attacks. Mohammed and the other accused 9/11 plotters, Waleed bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, face charges [charge sheet, PDF] including terrorism, hijacking, murder, conspiracy and destruction of property. If convicted, they face the death penalty.

Last week, the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] referred charges [JURIST report] to Pohl against the five accused 9/11 plotters. The DOD announced last May that it had sworn charges against the five men [JURIST report] for the 9/11 attacks. Last April, US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] announced that Mohammed and the four others would be tried by a military commission [JURIST report] after the Obama administration abandoned attempts to have the 9/11 suspects tried in civilian courts. Holder had wanted the accused be tried before a federal civilian court [JURIST report] but referred the cases to the DOD after Congress imposed a series of restrictions [JURIST report] barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the US.

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