Guantánamo

Judge rebuffs prosecution bid to set 9/11 trial date

Smoke billows from one of the towers of the World Trade Center and flames and debris explode from the second tower, Sept. 11, 2001. In one of the most horrifying attacks ever against the United States, terrorists crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center in a deadly series of blows that brought down the twin 110-story towers.
Smoke billows from one of the towers of the World Trade Center and flames and debris explode from the second tower, Sept. 11, 2001. In one of the most horrifying attacks ever against the United States, terrorists crashed two airliners into the World Trade Center in a deadly series of blows that brought down the twin 110-story towers. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The 9/11 case judge has rebuffed a prosecution request for a trial schedule, saying there are too many outstanding issues to set a date in the five-man death penalty case.

Army Col. James L. Pohl, the judge, called the request “not within the realm of possibility at this juncture” in a two-page order dated Dec. 12 and subsequently released on the Pentagon’s military commissions website.

Alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four other men are accused of conspiring in the Sept. 11, 2001 hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people. They were arraigned May 5, 2012.

The judge did, however, schedule six sets of hearings in 2015 — covering 45 days — at the Camp Justice war court compound at the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. Three of those sessions are scheduled to last 10 days, if that much hearing time is needed.

In rejecting the request, Pohl noted his court has not resolved a possible conflict-of-interest issue sparked by the defense teams’ claim that the FBI was spying on their work. Separately, he added, the prosecution had begun a process of determining whether one accused plotter, Ramzi bin al Shibh, was competent to stand trial.

Bin al Shibh’s lawyers, meantime, don’t dispute that he’s competent. They argue that his court outbursts claiming sleeplessness are caused by some sort of vibrations and noises at their client’s cell — and have asked the judge to let them hire an expert and order access to a secret prison, called Camp 7, where the alleged 9/11 plotters and others are kept.

In his order, Pohl noted that issue also has to be resolved before trial.

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Miami Herald Sept. 11 war crimes trial primer here. Read the charge sheet, about the court, the accused and the attorneys.

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