Muslim holy period delays Sept. 11 case at Gitmo

FILE - In this May 13, 2009 file photo reviewed by the U.S. military, the sun rises over the Guantanamo detention facility at dawn, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. In a speech Thursday, President Barack Obama defended his plans to close the Guantanamo prison camp. Five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks, including the self-proclaimed mastermind, are headed back to a military tribunal  at Guantanamo Bay more than three years after President Barack Obama put the case on hold in a failed effort to move the proceedings to a civilian court and close the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

FILE - In this May 13, 2009 file photo reviewed by the U.S. military, the sun rises over the Guantanamo detention facility at dawn, at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base, Cuba. In a speech Thursday, President Barack Obama defended his plans to close the Guantanamo prison camp. Five men accused of orchestrating the Sept. 11 attacks, including the self-proclaimed mastermind, are headed back to a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay more than three years after President Barack Obama put the case on hold in a failed effort to move the proceedings to a civilian court and close the prison at the U.S. base in Cuba. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — A U.S. military judge agreed Monday to postpone the next court hearings at the Guantanamo Bay prison for five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks to avoid a conflict with the Muslim holy period of Ramadan.

The judge issued a short order postponing the next pretrial hearings at the U.S. base in Cuba until Aug. 22-26 at the request of all five defendants, said James Connell, a lawyer for one of the accused.

The hearings had been scheduled to run from Aug. 8-12, which fall during the last 10 days of Ramadan, a period in which devout Muslims fast during the day and pray during the night. That would make it difficult for the accused to participate in their defense, said Connell, a lawyer for Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali.

"It's very difficult to pay attention to sometimes intricate legal proceedings when you haven't had any sleep and you haven't had any food," Connell said.

The judge, Army Col. James Pohl, denied a defense request not to hold any future hearings in the case on Fridays, a day on which many Muslims do not work and his order does not mention what will happen if future hearings fall during the month of Ramadan. The judge did not explain his decisions in the brief ruling.

Military prosecutors had opposed a defense motion to prohibit any hearings on Fridays or during Ramadan, saying to do so would eliminate about 20 percent of potential hearing dates from the calendar and make it difficult to schedule court sessions at the remote base.

The five defendants were arraigned at Guantanamo in May on charges that include murder and terrorism for their alleged roles aiding the Sept. 11 attacks, the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil. The defendants include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has told authorities that he was the mastermind of the plot, and all five could get the death penalty if convicted.

The judge will consider a number of procedural motions during the next round of pretrial hearings in the case. The actual trial is not expected to begin for at least a year.

Associated Press
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to webmaster@wvlt-tv.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 162640506