[JURIST] The US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit [official website] ruled Wednesday [opinion, PDF] that Judge Scott Silliman [official profile] should have recused himself in a case concerning multiple defendants who were charged with aiding in the 9/11 attacks. The petitioner, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [CNN profile], argued that Silliman was biased in the matter and cited [CNN report] a 2010 comment in which Silliman called Mohammad and his co-defendants the major conspirators in the 9/11 attacks. The court found that because Silliman “expressed an opinion that Petitioner is guilty of the very crimes of which he is accused,” he manifested an “apparent bias” and thus should have recused himself. The court granted the petition asking the court to recuse Silliman and vacated a decision [text, PDF] by the United States Court of Military Commission [official website] to reinstate charges for attacking civilians and destroying property in violation of the law of war against Mohammad and his co-defendants.
Mohammed allegedly met Osama bin Laden sometime in 1996. Following the 9/11 attacks, he was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list [website] in October of 2001. One year later, Mohammed was linked to a Bali nightclub bombing [BBC report] in 2002. He was captured in Pakistan along with other al Qaeda operatives in 2003. In 2006 the US government acknowledged that Mohammad was being held in Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] with other suspected terrorists. In February 2008 the US announced that it would be seeking the death penalty against Mohammed and his co-defendants. In January 2009 then-president Barack Obama ordered a halt to the Guantanamo Bay [Guardian report] tribunals, delaying Mohammed’s trail by 120 days. In April 2011, following more delays, the Department of Justice announced they would refer the case against Mohammed back to the Department of Defense [press release]. The matter of Mohammed and his co-defendants is still pending today.