Judge at Guantánamo Says 9/11 Trial Start is at Least a Year Away

FORT MEADE, Md — The new decide presiding within the Sept. 11, 2001 case at Guantánamo Bay stated on Monday that the trial of the 5 males accused of plotting the assaults won’t start for at least one other yr.

The decide, Col. Matthew N. McCall, who took over the case final month, was holding his second week of pretrial hearings at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, after a delay of greater than a yr and half brought on by the pandemic.

The timeline set by the decide on Monday would imply the trial of the 5 males, together with the accused mastermind of the plot, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, wouldn’t get underway till greater than 21 years after hijacked jetliners crashed into the dual towers of the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a subject in Shanksville, Penn.

Colonel McCall was ruling on objections by protection legal professionals for 2 of the defendants, Walid bin Attash and Ramzi bin al-Shibh. The legal professionals questioned his to preside in a death-penalty case as a result of he had not learn the filings and court docket report stretching again to the arraignment of the defendants in May 2012, together with the 33,660-page transcript.

They urged him to droop proceedings till he was correctly educated in addition to totally acquainted with the rulings by three earlier judges within the case.

Col. Matthew N. McCall is the fourth army decide to preside at Guantánamo Bay within the five-defendant, Sept. 11 conspiracy case.Credit…Office of Military Commissions

The decide replied that he had ample time, and a plan, to stand up to hurry, together with taking a National Judicial College course on how one can deal with capital instances. Because of the pandemic, he can be taking it on-line, he stated.

“At a minimum we are least one year away from trial,” stated Colonel McCall, an Air Force colonel. He declared himself certified by army fee laws, Air Force bar and moral obligations and “not bound by a particular timeline to get to trial.”

Colonel McCall is the fourth decide to preside at the Guantánamo court docket within the conspiracy case towards Mr. Mohammed and the 4 different males who’re accused of serving to to plot the hijackings that killed practically three,000 individuals in New York, Pennsylvania and the Pentagon 20 years in the past.

He has been a army decide for simply two years, and was not too long ago promoted to colonel, making him the youngest and least skilled of the judges who’ve overseen the case.

Cheryl Bormann, the lawyer for Mr. Bin Attash, urged the decide final week to droop the proceedings till he accomplished the course and was totally acquainted with the three earlier judges rulings as a baseline for transferring ahead.

Instead, the decide stated, he had developed a plan to study as he went alongside, together with holding conferences individually with every particular person protection crew and likewise with the prosecutors so they may fill him in on labeled info filings. Because it is a nationwide safety case, the decide is entrusted with ensuring that prosecution selections on what proof could be offered to the protection legal professionals — and what info is withheld or redacted — doesn’t drawback the protection at trial.

An earlier decide had set a timetable to beginning the trial in January of this yr. But that plan has lengthy since been shelved. At a minimal, based mostly on the decide’s feedback, jury choice wouldn’t start till after the 21st anniversary of the assaults.