Five 9/11 terror suspects boycott Guantanamo hearing

Miami HeraldJuly 16, 2009 

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — All five alleged co-conspirators in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks boycotted a pretrial hearing Thursday morning, frustrating prosecutors and denying kin of victims a chance to see the men in the flesh.

Prosecutor Robert Swann, a retired Army colonel, argued that no hearing should go forward without the presence of accused 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four alleged co-conspirators. Three of the men are acting as their own attorneys.

The hearing was meant to hash out what information would be made available to military defense lawyers for two of the accused — Ramzi bin al Shibh and Mustafa al Hawsawi —as part of an ongoing sanity board to determine their competency to stand trial.

Both men have asked to serve as their own attorneys. Navy Cmdr. Suzanne Lachelier, assigned to defend bin al Shibh, says the Yemeni, who has been accused of helping the 9/11 hijackers find flight schools in America, has been prescribed psychotropic medications given to patients who are schizophrenic or bipolar.

It was not known why Hawsawi may not be competent. His attorney, Army Maj. Jon Jackson, has filed sealed motions in his client's case.

Defense lawyers said the accused men were notified on the eve of the hearing that they would be prohibited from speaking in court.

Nine relatives of Americans killed in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon watched the proceedings from a special victims' section inside a glass-enclosed and soundproofed booth at the back of the court.


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