Holder Refers 9/11 Conspirators to Military Tribunal

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2011 — The 9/11 co-con­spir­a­tors will be tried by a mil­i­tary tri­bunal, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er announced today.
This means the cas­es of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammed Sal­ih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Bin Al Shibh, Ali Abdul-Aziz Ali and Mustafa Ahmed Al Haw­sawi –- the alleged con­spir­a­tors in the Sept. 11, 2001, ter­ror­ist attacks on the Unit­ed States -– will be referred to the Office of Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions.

Navy Capt. John Mur­phy, chief pros­e­cu­tor of the Office of Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions, said that in light of the attor­ney general’s deci­sion, his office intends to swear charges against the men in the near future. “I intend to rec­om­mend the charges be sent to a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion for a joint tri­al,” he said in a writ­ten state­ment.

The tri­als will take place under the Mil­i­tary Com­mis­sions Act of 2009, and the cap­tain stressed that just as in civil­ian tri­als, those accused are pre­sumed inno­cent until their guilt is proved beyond a rea­son­able doubt.

The men will be tried at the Expe­di­tionary Legal Com­plex at Guan­tanamo Naval Sta­tion in Cuba.

Hold­er said that he believes the tri­als could have been held in New York or Vir­ginia, but that Con­gress imposed restric­tions on where the tri­al could be held, tak­ing the deci­sion from his hands.

“Those restric­tions are unlike­ly to be repealed in the imme­di­ate future,” the attor­ney gen­er­al said. “We sim­ply can­not allow a tri­al to be delayed any longer for the vic­tims of the 9/11 attacks or for their fam­i­ly mem­bers who have wait­ed for near­ly a decade for jus­tice. I have talked to these fam­i­ly mem­bers on many occa­sions over the last two years. Like many Amer­i­cans, they dif­fer on where the 9/11 con­spir­a­tors should be pros­e­cut­ed, but there is one thing on which they all agree: We must bring the con­spir­a­tors to jus­tice.”

If charges are sworn, the con­ven­ing author­i­ty –- retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce Mac­Don­ald -– would con­duct a thor­ough review of the evi­dence sup­port­ing the charges, Defense Depart­ment offi­cials said. It is MacDonald’s respon­si­bil­i­ty to make an inde­pen­dent deter­mi­na­tion as to the appro­pri­ate dis­po­si­tion of the charges. If he deter­mines the evi­dence sup­ports the charges and that refer­ral to a mil­i­tary com­mis­sion is appro­pri­ate, he would refer the charges.

At that point, a mil­i­tary judge would be detailed by the chief tri­al judge for mil­i­tary com­mis­sions, and the accused would be arraigned with­in 30 days of the refer­ral.

DOD is com­mit­ted to con­duct­ing mil­i­tary com­mis­sions that are fair, cred­i­ble and trans­par­ent, while simul­ta­ne­ous­ly pro­tect­ing U.S. nation­al secu­ri­ty, Pen­ta­gon offi­cials said.

Pros­e­cu­tors from both the Defense and Jus­tice depart­ments have been work­ing togeth­er through­out this process.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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