WAR COURT

Saudi asks for separate Guantánamo 9/11 trial

 

One of the lesser-known of the accused co-conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks is asking to be tried separately from alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and the others.

 
Left to right: Mustafa al Hawsawi, Ammar al Baluchi, Ramzi bin al Shibh, Walid Bin Attash and Khalik Sheik Mohammad, pray at their arraignment Saturday, May 5, 2012. Sketch reviewed and approved for release by a U.S. military security official.
Left to right: Mustafa al Hawsawi, Ammar al Baluchi, Ramzi bin al Shibh, Walid Bin Attash and Khalik Sheik Mohammad, pray at their arraignment Saturday, May 5, 2012. Sketch reviewed and approved for release by a U.S. military security official.
JANET HAMLIN, SKETCH ARTIST

crosenberg@MiamiHerald.com

A Saudi man accused as a co-conspirator in the 9/11 case wants his own death-penalty tribunal.

Defense attorney Walter Ruiz said Friday that his client, Mustafa al Hawsawi, 45, is seeking the separation from alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and three other accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks because he’s “not interested in more delays.”

Hawsawi, captured in Pakistan in March 2003 with Mohammed, allegedly helped with money, Western clothing, traveler's checks and credit cards for some of the 9/11 hijackers who killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

He occupies the fifth row of the defendant’s side of the cavernous war court, when he attends, and sits farthest from the judge in the courtroom. Mohammed sits in the front row.

“A joint trial invites a verdict of guilt by association,” Ruiz said in a statement to the Miami Herald that called the Saudi’s case “different.”

“An independent and honest assessment of his facts is what justice requires,” he added. “We're not confident he can ever get that in Guantánamo but after 11 years without a trial, Mr. al Hawsawi is not interested in more delays.”

Prosecutors have yet to respond to the proposal. But they rejected the idea two years ago.

Ruiz said he filed the May 21 request for a separate trial with permission of his client. The document itself was still under seal at the war court website Friday.

But a summary provided by Ruiz showed he was arguing that Hawsawi had no stake in a series of controversies at the war court that had caused delays in the case that has had on-again, off-again pretrial hearings since the five men were arraigned May 5, 2012.

He cited the latest issue — FBI agents questioning a member of alleged plotter Ramzi bin al Shibh’s defense team — which is expected to be a focus of hearings June 16-20.

He also mentioned “the government’s decision to install a secret kill switch to the public audio feed in the courtroom,” a prosecution request for a mental health evaluation of bin al Shibh and the discovery of listening devices that looked like smoke detectors in attorney-client meeting rooms.

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