FIVE MEN ACCUSED of planning the 9/11 terrorist attacks are due to appear before a military tribunal in Guantanamo.
US President Barack Obama put the case on hold three years ago as part of an effort to move it to civilian courts and close the Guantanamo facility. The president had pledged to close the Cuban base by 1 January 2010.
One of the five, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, claims to have masterminded the attacks in 2001 which killed almost 3,000 people. He was charged in 2008.
All five men are charged with terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder and the destruction of property, and they face the death penalty if convicted.
Jim Harrington, lawyer for defendant Ramzi Binalshibh, told the AP that his client has “no intention of pleading guilty”.
“I don’t think anyone is going to plead guilty,” he added.
New rules implemented by Congress and President Obama have banned the use of testimony obtained through torture or cruel treatment. However, Human Rights Watch director Kenneth Roth says that coerced testimony is still admissible, just not from defendants. Roth says the case should be heard at a civilian court instead of by a Pentagon-selected judge and jury panel.
Cameras are not being allowed inside the courtroom for the trial, but US authorities have agreed to broadcast hearings to US military bases so that the victims’ families can follow the trial without having to travel to Guantanamo.
The military tribunal is to begin hearing the case tomorrow.