Lawyers urge 9/11 charges dismissal

Lawyers for suspects held in Guantanamo say trial timing is politically motivated.

    Mohammed will be arraigned in June [EPA]

    'Strategic value'
     
    Mohammed and the four other detainees are to be arraigned in a US military court on June 5 on charges including murder and conspiracy.
     

    "It is safe to say that there are senior officials in the military commission process who believe that there would be strategic political value to having these five men sitting in a death chamber on November 4, 2008"

    Navy Lieutenant-Commander Brian Mizer

    However, Navy Lieutenant-Commander Brian Mizer, one of the men's lawyers, said in Thursday's court filing that their trial date could prejudice the outcome of the case.
     
    "It is safe to say that there are senior officials in the military commission process who believe that there would be strategic political value to having these five men sitting in a death chamber on November 4, 2008," Mizer is quoted by AP as saying.
     
    The other men facing charges include Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who was captured in Pakistan in 2002, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, known as Ammar al-Baluchi and a nephew of Mohammed, al-Baluchi's assistant Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, from Saudi Arabia, and Waleed bin Attash, reportedly from Yemen.
     
    A sixth man, Mohammed al-Qahtani, whom the Pentagon had alleged was the "20th hijacker" in the September 11 attacks, had charges against him dropped.
     
    Controversy over the upcoming trial of Mohammed arose after the US authorities admitted earlier this year that he had been "waterboarded" - an interrogation method designed to simulate the sensation of drowning - by CIA investigators before he reportedly confessed.
     
    Further charges
     
    Also on Thursday, three more Guantanamo Bay detainees were charged with identical counts of conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism.
     
    The men are Ghassan Abdullah al-Sharbi, from Saudi Arabia, who is alleged to have visited al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and met Osama bin Laden, Jabran Said bin al-Qahtani, also from Saudi Arabia, and Algerian detainee Sufyian Barhoumi.
     
    Al-Qahtani is also accused of attending an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan and learning how to make explosives, while Barhoumi is accused of being an explosives trainer for the group.
     
    The proposed charges will be reviewed by Susan Crawford, the US defence department official in charge of the military commissions, who must approve them before the men can face trial.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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