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Guantanamo inmates pursuing claims under global torture treaty

Lawyers for five Guantanamo Bay inmates implicated in the 9/11 terrorist attacks [JURIST backgrounders] on Tuesday argued that restrictive rules for classifying evidence violate the Convention Against Torture [materials], a treaty that the US ratified in 1994. The lawyers represent Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [JURIST news archive] and four other men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks. At a pretrial hearing in front of military judge Army Col. James Pohl [Miami Herald backgrounder; JURIST news archive], the lawyers contended [AP report] that the evidence rules violate the Convention Against Torture because they do not allow an investigation into allegations that the inmates were tortured by the CIA. The five defendants face charges including terrorism, hijacking and nearly 3,000 counts of murder.

Controversy continues to surround Guantanamo military trials. Earlier this month a military judge refused to suspend pretrial hearings [JURIST report] in the ongoing case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants. In February Pohl ordered the removal [JURIST report] of any monitoring system that censors the public broadcast of the 9/11 military commission hearings. He noted that only he and the court security officer have the authority to turn on or off the light that would make the courtroom closed to public. The order came a day after the DOD released an excerpt of the transcript from the missing few minutes based on another order issued earlier that week. In the same month Pohl denied [JURIST report] a defense motion requesting a finding that the US constitution was "presumed to apply" in the proceedings and that the prosecution must bear the burden of proving that any particular provision did not apply. In April 2011 US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Khalid Sheikh 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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