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9/11 suspects arraigned at military tribunal

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and four of his alleged co-conspirators were arraigned on Saturday at a military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay for their involvement in the 9/11 attacks [JURIST backgrounders]. The hearing was prolonged by numerous interruptions from the defendants [AP report]. The defendants face charges of conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking aircraft and terrorism. The men could face the death penalty if convicted. Lawyers for the defendants have not indicated how their clients will plead in the upcoming trial. The next hearing will be June 12.

The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] referred charges [JURIST report] to a military commission in April against the five alleged conspirators, drawing criticism from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] who said the trials should take place in federal court. The DOD announced in 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 the five defendants 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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