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Military court to resume 9/11 pre-trial hearings

WASHINGTON — The accused plotters of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the US are due to appear Monday for another round of pretrial hearings in a courtroom at the US naval base on Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Monday's session is scheduled to be the first of four days of hearings to address more pretrial motions in the case against the men accused in the suicide hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people.

Alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and the four other defendants face the death penalty if convicted. The defendants, who have been imprisoned for years at Guantanamo, claim the military commission assigned to try them is illegitimate and rigged to ensure guilty verdicts.

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Mohammed is a former CIA captive who was waterboarded 183 times. The other four are the accused trainers and financiers of the 19 men who hijacked four planes that were flown into each of the World Trade Center towers in New York and the Pentagon just outside Washington. The fourth plane crashed in rural Pennsylvania.

The last round of pretrial hearings was in October. Army Colonel James Pohl heard a handful of motions, including whether the defendants could waive their right to attend and what they were allowed to wear in the courtroom.

The issue of torture and abuse will likely play a role in the remaining pretrial hearings and in the trial.

Mohammed was captured in 2003 in Pakistan and kept in a secret CIA prison where the intelligence agency has confirmed that he was subjected to water-boarding — a simulated drowning — 183 times. Evidence obtained by torture is not allowed in the court.

One of the other four defendants, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, is a nephew of Mohammed. The other defendants are Walid bin Attash, Mustafa al-Hawsawi and Ramzi Binalshibh.

They are charged jointly with conspiracy, attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft and terrorism.

The military broadcasts the proceedings over closed circuit television to a handful of sites at military bases where journalists, relatives of the victims and interested members of the public can view them on a 40-second time delay.
 

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