Guantanamo prosecutors pushing for 2014 trial for 9/11 case

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Prosecutors are asking a military judge to set a September 2014 trial date for the 9/11 case, in a decision that could hinge on how deeply the defense is allowed to delve into details of the defendants’ treatment in CIA prisons.

Military prosecutors want to speed up the hearing schedule and start the trial next autumn for the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 plot, Khlalid Sheikh Mohammed, and his four alleged conspirators – all of whom will face the death penalty if they are convicted, Reuters reported.

The four men were arraigned on terrorism, murder, and other charges in May 2012 – more than ten years after four commercial airliners crashed into the World Trade Center, The Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania field, killing 2,976 people.

Since then, the Guantanamo court has scheduled weeklong pretrial hearings about every six weeks, mostly to hear challenges by the defense lawyers. However, some previous hearings were cancelled due to computer problems and tropical storms on the remote Caribbean base.

There have also been pretrial hearings on whether military and intelligence agents were spying on supposedly confidential attorney-client discussions, an issue that is still unresolved.

In another weeklong pretrial hearing to begin on Monday, Colonel James Pohl will hear the prosecution’s arguments for speeding up the proceedings.

Prosecutors will push the judge to set firm deadlines for new filings, hold month-long hearings to work through a backlog of outstanding motions, and to start picking a jury for a trial to take place on September 22, 2014.

The prosecution wrote in court filings that continuing at the current pace “will result in litigation that is unnecessarily prolonged and does not serve the interests of justice.”

In the documents, the prosecution said they have already given the defense team most of their evidence, including 170,000 pages of unclassified information. They will hand over their secret evidence once all five defense teams have signed up to ‘memorandums of understanding’ to make sure the evidence is safeguarded as secret.

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