9/11 suspects begin trial at Guantanamo after 4-year delay
Published: Monday, May 21, 2012
Updated: Monday, August 27, 2012 16:08
Four years ago the trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other alleged 9/11 conspirators was postponed at Guantanamo Bay amidst widespread criticism of its legitimacy. Several weeks ago, military commission hearings began for those five defendants in a process that is expected to drag on for years.
All of the defendants have accused the United States of torture and have refused to participate in the court proceedings.
The men refused to listen or respond to the judge and regularly interrupted the proceedings for prayer. None of the five defendants accepted headphones that would provide Arabic translations of the judge’s dialogue.
A military tribunal is not expected to begin for another year. With a 13-hour arraignment Saturday, May 5, the prosecution is not looking for an immediate verdict.
“However long the journey, the United States is committed to accountability under law for those who have plotted to attack our nation and to kill innocent people,” said Chief Prosecutor Army Brigadier General Mark Martins to reporters at Guantanamo Bay.
The original military tribunal was set up by the Bush Administration. After accusations of illegitimate evidence and torture by the United States, the process never happened and the five defendants (nicknamed the “Gitmo Five”) remained in prison.
The process was initially halted when Obama entered office and further delayed as he attempted to move the tribunal to a New York federal court. This effort was thwarted by fears of protests and congressional backlash.
The Obama Administration has attempted to mend the military commission system set up by President Bush, yet criticism from the international community has remained due to the court’s rejection of torture as a topic of discussion.
“Obama promised that he would close Guantanamo [Bay],” said DePaul sophomore computer science student Stanton Valentino. “Yet it remains in use as much as it did in the Bush Administration.”
Mohammed, the primary figure in the case, is the confessed mastermind of the attacks of 9/11. Described in a 123-page report, he faces seven charges surrounding the deaths of nearly 3,000 people that resulted from the attacks in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Several families of victims of the attacks were in attendance for the hearing, in what is expected to be a long legal challenge.
With years of delays and legal proceedings, a legitimate and well-received trial for the defendants has plenty of time to develop.