Court Date Set for Accused 9/11 Plotters

Posted April 10th, 2012 at 11:55 am (UTC-5)
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The chief war court judge at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay naval base has set May 5 as the date for the arraignment of five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States that killed nearly 3,000 people.

The Pentagon said Tuesday that military judge James Pohl set the rare Saturday morning court date to formally accuse the five suspected al-Qaida militants of participation in the 9/11 plot. The defendants' lawyers could ask for a delay.

The defendants include the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four other alleged co-conspirators.

They are accused of terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder and other charges. If found guilty, they could face the death penalty.

The U.S. military last week formally ordered a military tribunal for the five suspects.

The Pentagon says that, in addition to their defense counsel, it has provided the five with attorneys with specialized knowledge and experience in death penalty cases in order to assist their defense.

But human rights groups have slammed the use of military tribunals as opposed to civilian courts. U.S. President Barack Obama initially had pledged to try the accused in a civilian court, but he reversed course last year after U.S. lawmakers passed restrictions prohibiting the transfer of terror detainees to the United States.

In 2008, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed said he wanted to plead guilty to all charges against him.