Lawyer argues ‘unlawful influence’ in '9/11 Five' case

Guantanamo prison attorney argues ‘unlawful influence’ by officials against '9/11 Five' suspects

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

'9/11 Five' head back to court, though trial remains distant.

An attorney in the United States said on Thursday the case against five men accused of plotting the September 11, 2001 attacks is tainted since President Barack Obama and some other senior officials have said the suspects are guilty while the case is still in court.

Walter Ruiz, lawyer of Mustafa al Hawsawi who is a Saudi Arabian citizen and one of the suspects in the case, requested the judge to drop the case, which is also known as “9/11 Five.”

A joint defense motion to dismiss the case was first filed in 2012.

The lawyer, who is also a naval officer, said to military judge Colonel James in a Guantanamo Bay courtroom that the president and his administration have repeatedly asserted to the US public that the suspects would be found guilty and sentenced to death.

Ruiz stressed that this kind of move is an “unlawful influence” that taints any potential jury pool.

Presenting dozens of slideshows of official statements about the suspects, Ruiz said "We'll never quite get away from the public comments from people in the position of power."

The five are, alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid bin Attash and Ramzi bin al Shibh from Yemen, Ali Abd al Aziz Ali who is known as Ammar Al Baluchi and Hawsawi.

On his presentation Ruiz showed a quote from Obama's former press secretary Robert Gibbs saying "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is going to meet justice and he's going to meet his maker."

"He will be brought to justice and he's likely to be executed for the heinous crimes that he committed in killing and masterminding the killing of 3,000 Americans. That you can be sure of," Gibbs said.

9/11 attacks killed about 3,000 people in New York.

Detainees are held in Guantanamo Bay prison, as efforts from Obama to prosecute the suspects in a federal court in New York in 2009 failed.

Obama's attempt proved too controversial and charges were reinstated in a military court in Guantanamo.

Thousands of cases and issues stemming from CIA torture to the detainees in custody slowed the case.

Director of Amnesty International USA's Security & Human Rights Program Naureen Shah said "There's fundamental questions about whether the rules of this tribunal are calculated to produce convictions rather than ensure a fair trial."

Hawsawi was not in the courtroom on Thursday and on Tuesday he sat on a white cushion throughout the proceeding claiming he suffered damage to his rectum during CIA’s interrogation.

Ruiz hopes the "unlawful influence" motion might at least persuade Pohl to split Hawsawi's prosecution off into a separate case or to take the death penalty off the table for his client.

Obama wants to close the prison that has housed about 780 detainees since 2002, prison currently houses 107 detainees.

Obama's efforts to close Guantanamo Bay have been repeatedly blocked by a reluctant Congress.

TRTWorld and agencies