Five alleged 9/11 plotters appear in court

Five men suspected of planning the September 11, 2001 attacks and being held at Guantanamo Bay have appeared before a military judge who will consider if they can plead guilty. A guilty plea would make the men eligible for the death penalty.


AFP - Five men accused of planning the September 11, 2001 attacks held at Guantanamo Bay prison appeared before a military judge Monday who will consider if they can plead guilty.

Self-proclaimed 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appeared in the court amid tight security alongside Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, Wallid bin Attash, Mustapha al-Hawsawi, and Ramzi bin al-Shaiba.

Judge Stephen Henley questioned the five men who appeared without the help of civilian or military lawyers.

In December, the Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants said they would submit guilty pleas to terror charges pending mental competency evaluations.

Should the guilty pleas go forward, the men could be sentenced to death.

Evidentiary motions are also planned for Omar Khadr, a Canadian citizen arrested in Afghanistan when he was 15 years old for allegedly killing a US soldier with a hand grenade. His trial has been set to begin on January 26.

But experts predict the trial may never take place.

"The military commissions are going to be stopped next Tuesday or Wednesday. It is expectable that the process is going to be stopped ... before it (the Khadr trial) starts," said Sarah Mendelson, a human rights and security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mandated by Congress in 2006, the military commissions were established by the administration of President George W. Bush to try unlawful enemy combatants. The controversial system allows convictions based on classified evidence, hearsay and evidence obtained under coercion.

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