[JURIST] A US military judge has issued an order [text, PDF] allowing for defense attorneys for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] to photograph the scars on the ankles and wrists of their client. The order, unsealed last week by US Army military judge Col. James L. Pohl, will allow the defense "to make a photographic record" to provide evidence that Mohammed was tortured at CIA black sites before being imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay. The order also covers [Miami Herald report] Mohammed's co-defendant Walid bin Attash a a lieutenant of Mohammed's and an alleged player in the planning of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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. He could face the death penalty if convicted. Last month US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] stated [JURIST report] at an unrelated press conference that the slow pace of the trial of Mohammed would have been avoided had he been tried before a federal civilian court. In January the Department of Defense (DOD) [official website] announced that it would not withdraw charges of conspiracy [JURIST report] against five accused plotters, after the chief Guantanamo prosecutor asked the DOD's appointee to dismiss the prosecution charge in order to avoid uncertainty that could delay the case. Four years ago, Holder announced a plan [JURIST report] to try the defendants in federal court in lower Manhattan. However, in 2011 Holder referred the cases to the DOD after Congress imposed a series of restrictions [JURIST report] barring the transfer of Guantanamo detainees to the US.