GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) – Alleged terrorist mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was expected to make what could be his last court appearance at this military base as he responds Monday to an attempt to delay his war crimes trial.
The chief military prosecutor said Mohammed, who refused to attend his last court session, would show up to respond to a request for another continuance while President Barack Obama’s administration decides whether to try the alleged plotters of the Sept. 11 attacks and other Guantanamo prisoners in civilian courts or revamped military tribunals.
The chief prosecutor, Navy Capt. John F. Murphy, said a decision on where to try Mohammed and four others charged in the Sept. 11 attacks will be made by Nov. 16. Even if the case remains in the hands of the military it would have to be moved from Guantanamo if Obama keeps his pledge to close the detention center at the U.S. base in Cuba in January.
The U.S. holds about 225 prisoners at Guantanamo. Murphy said about 65 are “viable” cases for prosecution. Military prosecutors are ready to try the cases, but four U.S. attorneys offices in New York and the Washington DC area are reviewing the files for possible federal civilian trials, he said.
Mohammed, who is serving as his own attorney, has made nine appearances before the war crimes court. He has proudly proclaimed his role in the attacks and call for the dismissal of the lawyers appointed by the court to assist with his defense.
Mohammed, captured by U.S. authorities in Pakistan in 2003, has said he wants to be executed by the United States to achieve martyrdom.
Declassified 2004 CIA documents, released Aug. 24 by the Obama administration, detailed some of the treatment that Mohammed and other terrorism suspects underwent as part of a harsh regime of interrogation.
Among other things, interrogators him that “if anything else happens in the United States, ‘We’re going to kill your children,”‘ and continuously poured large volumes of water on a cloth covering his mouth, the practice known as waterboarding. Previous documents revealed that he was waterboarded 183 times.