Proceedings in 9/11 Case Resume, and Then Are Delayed Once more

Proceedings in 9/11 Case Resume, and Then Are Delayed Again

2021-09-08 04:34:11

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — It was presupposed to be a listening to supposed to get the case towards the 5 males accused of plotting the Sept. 11 assaults again on monitor after an extended delay attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.

As an alternative, it was one other instance of how authorized maneuvering and a altering forged of characters proceed to gradual the method of making an attempt the defendants 20 years after the horrific occasions that the prosecution says they helped set in movement.

Guards led the 5 males, together with Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who’s accused of being the mastermind of the plot, into the courtroom on Tuesday for the primary time because the pandemic put a halt to the pretrial proceedings.

A lawyer for Mr. Mohammed had simply begun to query the brand new decide, Col. Matthew N. McCall, in regards to the circumstances of his project to the case when a prosecutor, Clayton G. Trivett Jr., introduced that the U.S. Court docket of Navy Fee Overview had issued a 23-page ruling on a problem to the army fee decide choice course of.

Colonel McCall then recessed the listening to till Wednesday to provide the legal professionals the remainder of the day to evaluation the choice.

The delay seems prone to be temporary. Even so, the morning’s developments confirmed how troublesome it’s to get the proceedings transferring. Plans to start the trial this 12 months have lengthy since been shelved, with the purpose now to start in 2022 on the earliest.

Mr. Mohammed regarded a lot as he did at his final court docket look in February 2020. He eliminated a face masks to disclose an orange-dyed beard and chatted amiably with a few of these accused of being his accomplices. Troopers in battle costume stood guard close by in black masks and plastic face shields in adherence to strict protocols to safeguard the residents of the distant base from the virus.

This week’s hearings have been preliminary in nature, however they took on significance due to the timing. Colonel McCall is holding his first hearings within the case on the eve of the twentieth anniversary of the assaults and after a 19-month break in pretrial hearings. The earlier decide abruptly retired from service initially of the pandemic and prosecutors had struggled for greater than a 12 months to get virus protections in place and a decide assigned to get the hearings restarted.

Greater than a 12 months of testimony and authorized arguments have been postponed in pretrial preparation, notably within the protection groups’ effort to get key proof excluded. The protection argues the proof is tainted by the C.I.A.’s torture of the prisoners throughout their three and 4 years of incommunicado detention earlier than their switch to Guantánamo Bay over Labor Day weekend in 2006.

Colonel McCall’s ambitions for the week have been modest: Enable legal professionals to query him about his background to see if any of his relationships and expertise would possibly represent conflicts or bias, after which meet individually with protection legal professionals and prosecutors about categorised data.

However in its ruling in regards to the decide choice course of, the Pentagon appeals panel nullified a few of Colonel McCall’s earliest administrative choices and orders within the Sept. 11 proceedings, discovering that, when he issued them, throughout his first two months on the case in late 2020, he was too inexperienced to preside in a army fee.

Colonel McCall had been faraway from the case in December after prosecutors protested. He had not but served for 2 years as a army decide, a prerequisite for a decide on the struggle court docket. He was reinstated final month.

Within the interim, the chief decide, Col. Douglas Ok. Watkins, failed in a behind the scenes effort to acquire waiver authority from the Pentagon after which dealt with the case himself — prompting protection legal professionals to problem months of administrative choices by each judges.

A lot has modified because the final session within the loss of life penalty case that accuses Mr. Mohammed, his nephew and three different males of conspiring with the hijackers who killed almost 3,000 individuals in New York, Pennsylvania and on the Pentagon.

The chief prosecutor, Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins, who had been on the case because the arraignment of the defendants in Could 2012, is retiring from the Military and was absent from the courtroom, leaving solely civilian legal professionals representing the prosecution, a primary within the historical past of the case.

The decide required that everybody within the courtroom put on masks however granted himself an exception in order that legal professionals asking him about his credentials and {qualifications} might see his reactions to their questions. 4 of the 5 defendants ignored the instruction and took off their masks in order that they may see each other as they chatted, presumably for his or her first encounters because the begin of the pandemic as a result of they’re unfold throughout two totally different maximum-security cell blocks.

Solely the Saudi defendant, Mustafa al-Hawsawi, saved his N95 masks on persistently all through the morning session. His legal professionals say he has suffered continual well being issues ensuing from rectal abuse throughout his C.I.A. detention. On Tuesday he not solely carried a pillow to court docket to make sitting much less painful, however guards additionally offered him with a padded rehabilitation chair in court docket, to which he added the pillow.

The beards of the 2 youngest defendants within the case, each of their mid-40s, turned streaked with grey throughout the pandemic.

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