Accused 9/11 conspirator asks UN to investigate torture allegations
Accused 9/11 conspirator asks UN to investigate torture allegations
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[JURIST] Lawyers for alleged 9/11 conspirator and Guantanamo Bay [JURIST backgrounder] detainee Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday revealed [press release] that they have asked a UN official to investigate allegations of torture. Mohammed reportedly confessed to planning the 2001 attacks after over seven days of sleep deprivation [AFP report]. The letter asks UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez [official website] to conduct an investigation into the conduct of officials from the US and any other complicit government:

The U.S. has demonstrated to the World that it can act with impunity outside her borders, and has sanctioned torture practices for States that will define this century. For the current generation of “those outside her borders,” America’s beacon is now Guantanamo—not the shining torch on the hill, but a siren of detention and despair. The U.S. Government seeks to close this painful and dark chapter in our Nation’s history by killing Mr. Mohammad after a show trial. There is a better way. This can end in hope—hope for torture victims around the world that even powerful States like the U.S. can be held accountable for torture. We hope that this Letter of Allegation against the U.S. and any other alleged, undisclosed potentially-complicit State Party will initiate a full, fair, and impartial inquiry.

The letter was sent to Mendez on May 5, a day before Mohammed was arraigned [JURIST report] before a military tribunal. The defense team apparently chose to release the letter in honor of the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, which commemorates the anniversary of the UN Convention Against Torture [text].

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. The US Department of Defense (DOD) referred charges [JURIST report] to a military commission in April against Mohammed and four other alleged conspirators, drawing criticism from groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which 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 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 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.