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UPDATE: The five Guantanamo prisoners charged as conspirators in the September 11 attacks refused to participate in the arraignment Saturday as part of a concerted effort to carry out “peaceful resistance to an unjust system,” James Connell, who is representing Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, told reporters at Guantanamo, reports CNN. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, and four co-defendants took part in a 13-hour court session Saturday but refused to speak or answer any of the questions posed by the judge, Army Colonel James Pohl.
The five men did not enter pleas at any time during the proceeding, immediately making it clear they had no intention of speeding up the process by admitting their guilt, notes the Miami Herald.
The military tribunal adjourned until June 12 and Pohl said it could be a year before the trial actually starts. Connell said that the tentative trial date of May 2013 is nothing but a “placeholder” and the chief prosecutor predicted the case could go on for years and will likely include hundreds of challenges from defense attorneys, reports the Associated Press.
Defense attorneys complain that they’re unable to discuss topics like torture that could help make their clients’ cases. "We are hamstrung ... before we ever start," said David Nevin, who is representing Mohammed. "The system is a rigged game to prevent us from doing our jobs." Whenever the defense attorneys brought up the issue of how their clients were treated, or even dared to utter the word “torture,” the closed-circuit feed of the hearing for journalists and family members of victims “was interrupted,” reports Reuters.
Saturday, May 5: Five Guantanamo prisoners accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks, including sef-proclaimed mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed, appeared in public for the first time in more than three years Saturday and made it clear they have no intention of helping a military tribunal press charges against them. Mohammed and the others appeared for an arraignment on charges that include 2,976 counts of murder, reports the Associated Press. Yet they “put on a defiant show,” as the Miami Herald puts it, from the beginning.
One of the accused, Walid bin Attash, was carried into the hearing in a restraint chair after he refused to enter the court voluntarily, according to Reuters. He was later freed once inside the courtroom. Yet all of the defendants refused to put on the headsets that would have allowed them to listen to a translation of the judge’s questions. The hearing was put on pause until the judge found a solution, which, according to the AP involved bringing in the translators into the courtroom while CNN says he set up speakers in the courtroom. Regardless, after each question, the judge was forced to note for the record, “The accused refuses to answer.”
The judge said he would be forced to enter a not guilty plea on Mohammed’s behalf if he refused to speak, reports CNN. Although Mohammed had earlier said that he and his co-defendants would plead guilty and welcome the death penalty, one civilian attorney said he did not think any of the defendants planned on pleading guilty. Needless to say, attorneys made it clear the arraignment was only the first step in what would likely be a very long process.
Six families of Sept. 11 victims were chosen by lottery to witness the Guantanamo hearings in person. Other family members, survivors and emergency personnel could follow the arraignment at one of four military bases along the East Coast that broadcast the proceedings, reports the AP.