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Guantanamo hearing for accused 9/11 conspirators delayed for Ramadan

The next hearing for alleged 9/11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and four codefendants was postponed on Monday to avoid a conflict with the last 10 days of Ramadan. The chief judge of the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] war crimes tribunals granted the delay to move the hearing from August 8-12 to August 22-26 so that the defendants could observe the end of the Muslim holy month. Ramadan ends on August 18. The five men were arraigned by the military commission [JURIST report] at Guantanamo in May, charged with conspiring with al Qaeda and murdering nearly 3,000 people in the 9/11 attacks [JURIST backgrounder]. Each defendant could face the death penalty if convicted.

Mohammed faces charges of 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 US Department of Defense (DOD) referred charges [JURIST report] to a military commission against Mohammed and four other alleged conspirators in April. In April 2011 US Attorney General Eric Holder 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 federal court. Holder had wanted the accused be tried before a federal civilian court 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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