The chief war court judge, Army Col. James Pohl, has assigned himself to preside at the death-penalty trial of the five men accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks and has set a provisional arraignment date for May 5 at Guantánamo.
The rare Saturday hearing would meet a 30-day speedy trial clock deadline under the Military Commissions Act but could be changed if defense lawyers seek a delay.
The war court appearances of alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four accused co-conspirators would also come within days of the first anniversary of the U.S. Special Forces raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan.
Pohl detailed himself to the case Monday and the war court website released the information on Tuesday afternoon. The army judge set the date in a second order the same day.
Pohl is currently the only military judge hearing cases at the Guantánamo war court. He’s at the base in southeast Cuba this week to hear pre-trial arguments in the case of accused USS Cole bomber Abd al Rahim al Nashiri, also facing possible military execution if convicted.
Pohl will keep the Cole case and handle the Sept. 11 proceedings, too, Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Defense Department spokesman, said Tuesday night.
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