US declines to withdraw conspiracy charge against accused 9/11 plotters

[JURIST] The US Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced [press release] Friday that it will not withdraw charges of conspiracy against five accused plotters of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, including Khalid Shaikh Mohammed [JURIST news archive]. Chief Guantanamo prosecutor, Brigadier General Mark Martins asked the DOD's appointee, Retired Admiral Bruce MacDonald [DOD backgrounders] to dismiss the prosecution charge in order to avoid uncertainty that could delay the case [Reuters report]. In the press release, the DOD declared that it would refuse to drop the conspiracy charge because it was waiting for appellate courts to determine whether military commissions can recognize conspiracy as valid charge:

[D]ismissal at this time would be premature, as the viability of conspiracy as a chargeable offense in trials by military commission is still pending appellate review. ... Congress included conspiracy as a chargeable offense in the Military Commissions Acts of 2006 and 2009, and that two Presidents had signed those Acts into law.
In addition to conspiracy, the DOD has charged the five accused plotters with terrorism, murder, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, destruction of property, hijacking aircraft and intentionally causing serious bodily injury.

Earlier this week the chief US military judge at Guantanamo denied defense motions [JURIST report] filed in both the 9/11 military commission trial and the 2000 USS Cole [Navy backgrounder] bombing trial. Last month a US military judge upheld [JURIST report] a request to censor 9/11 conspirators' testimony. The DOD announced in 2011 that it had sworn charges against five men [JURIST report] accused in the 9/11 attacks. In April 2011 US Attorney General Eric Holder 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.

 

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