The chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay proposed Friday a January 2015 start date to begin the trial of the five alleged 9/11 plotters, in yet another delay.
Seeking to “bring closure” to the families of the victims, Brigadier General Mark Martins said jury selection would begin after the court has examined final motions from the defense and prosecution to set procedures for the trial.
Judge Colonel James Pohl, who presides over the special military tribunal, must make the final decision on setting a date for the trial at the US naval base in Cuba over the September 2001 attacks on US soil more than a decade ago.
Martins had previously sought to accelerate preliminary hearings to what has been dubbed the “trial of the century,” in August, asking for a September 2014 trial date.
Self-declared 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four co-defendants face the death penalty if convicted of plotting the attacks on New York and Washington that left nearly 3,000 people dead. Preliminary hearings in the case began in May 2012.
Martins asked that the final motions be filed by December 6, so that there would be enough time to examine each of them and for the judge to issue his ruling before September 2014, when the Saudi man accused of masterminding the 2000 attack on the USS Cole goes on trial.
Pohl explained that scheduling would be important because both trials must use the same ultra-modern courtroom at Guantanamo.
“The current practice of being in court for five days approximately every six weeks is inefficient and will result in litigation that is unnecessarily prolonged, and does not serve the interests of justice,” prosecutors said when they sought quicker proceedings in August.
Defense lawyers countered, however, that their efforts had been hindered by a variety of factors.
The hearings had previously been delayed due to storms and problems in retransmitting the proceedings from the US prison in Cuba to the Fort Meade military base outside Washington.