Wednesday, April 4, 2012
US Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald, a senior Pentagon official and the Convening Authority for the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay, has completed his review of the charges against the five detainees accused of orchestrating the attacks of September 11, 2001 and has determined the case may proceed to trial. The five accused are the alleged ringleader Khalid Sheik Mohammad, Abdul Aziz Ali, a Pakistani, Ramzi Binalshibh and Walid bin Attash, both from Yemin, and Mustafa al-Hawsawi, from Saudi Arabia. The men are charged with violations of the laws of war, attacking civilians and civilian objects, hijacking aircraft and terrorism. If convicted, they could face the death penalty. An arraignment will be held at Guantanamo Bay next month and a number of pre-trial issues will have to be decided, including legal representation. The men are entitled to a military lawyer as well as a second "learned counsel" experienced with the death penalty. However, previously, some of the men had established the right to represent themselves. That issue will likely have to be re-litigated. Evidentiary issues, especially relating to the use of evidence obtained through the use of harsh interrogation techniques, will likely continue to be a central focus of debate.