Guantánamo judge says 9/11 trial begins in at least a year

FORT MEADE, Md – The new judge presiding over the Case of September 11, 2001 in Guantánamo Bay said Monday that the trial of the five m...


FORT MEADE, Md – The new judge presiding over the Case of September 11, 2001 in Guantánamo Bay said Monday that the trial of the five men accused of instigating the attacks would not begin for at least a year.

The judge, Colonel Matthew N. McCall, which took over the case last month, was holding its second week of pre-trial hearings at Naval Base Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, after a delay of more than a year and a half caused by the pandemic.

The timetable set by the judge on Monday would mean the trial of the five men, whose mastermind accused of the conspiracy, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, only began more than 21 years after hijacked airliners crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Shanksville, Penn.

Colonel McCall was speaking on defense attorneys’ objections for two of the defendants, Walid ben Attash and Ramzi ben al-shibh. Lawyers questioned his qualifications to preside over a death penalty case because he had not read the documents and court record dating back to the indictment of the defendants in May 2012, including the transcripts of 33,660 pages.

They urged him to stay the proceedings until he is properly trained and is fully aware of the rulings of three previous judges in the case.

The judge replied that he had ample time and a plan to level up, including taking a Courses of the National Judicial College on how to deal with capital matters. Due to the pandemic, he will put it online, he said.

“At a minimum, we are at least a year away from the trial,” said Col. McCall, an Air Force colonel. He declared himself qualified by the regulations of the military commission, the Bar of the Air Force and the ethical obligations and “not bound by a particular deadline to go to the trial”.

Colonel McCall is the fourth judge to preside over the Guantanamo court in the conspiracy case against Mr. Mohammed and the four other men who are accused of aiding in plotting the hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon 20 years ago. .

He has only been a military judge for two years and was recently promoted to colonel, making him the youngest and most less experienced of the judges who reviewed the case.

Cheryl Bormann, Mr Bin Attash’s lawyer, urged the judge last week to stay the proceedings until he has completed the course and is fully aware of the rulings of the previous three judges as a point starting to move forward.

Instead, the judge said, he made a plan to learn as you go, including holding meetings separately with each individual defense team and also with prosecutors so they could brief him on the cases. classified information. Since this is a national security case, the judge is responsible for ensuring that the prosecution’s decisions on what evidence can be provided to defense lawyers – and information withheld or redacted – does not disadvantage not the defense at trial.

A previous judge had set a timeline for the trial to start in January this year. But this plan has long been abandoned. At a minimum, based on the judge’s comments, jury selection would not begin until after the 21st anniversary of the attacks.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Guantánamo judge says 9/11 trial begins in at least a year
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