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Trial in 9/11 case at Guantanamo gets early 2021 start date

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    In this photo of a sketch by court artist Janet Hamlin, and reviewed by the U.S. Military, from top left to bottom, Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Walid bin Attash, Ramzi bin al Shibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, also known as Ammar al Baluchi, and Mustafa al Hawsawi attend a hearing at the U.S. Military Commissions court for war crimes at the U.S. Naval Base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Jan. 21, 2009.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    This March 1, 2003 photo shows Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, the alleged Sept. 11 mastermind, shortly after his capture during a raid in Pakistan.

WASHINGTON >> A military judge on Friday set a date in early 2021 for the start of the long-stalled war crimes trial of five men being held at the Guantanamo Bay prison on charges of planning and aiding the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Air Force Col. W. Shane Cohen set the start date in an order setting motion and evidentiary deadlines in a case that has been bogged down in pretrial litigation. The five defendants were arraigned in May 2012.

In setting the Jan. 11, 2021, start, Cohen noted that the trial at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, “will face a host of administrative and logistics challenges.”

The U.S. has charged the five with war crimes that include terrorism, hijacking and nearly 3,000 counts of murder for their alleged roles planning and providing logistical support to the Sept. 11 plot. They could get the death penalty if convicted at the military commission, which combines elements of civilian and military law.

The five defendants include Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, a senior al-Qaida figure who has portrayed himself as the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and other terrorist plots.

Mohammad and his four co-defendants have been held at Guantanamo since September 2006 after several years in clandestine CIA detention facilities following their capture.

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