Guantanamo judge delays 9/11 cases; civilian trials pondered

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVY BASE, Cuba — The military judge overseeing the 9/11 mass murder case on Monday approved a 60-day delay in the proceedings to give the Obama administration time to decide whether to take the case to federal court.

Army Col. Stephen Henley approved the war court freeze in a three-page ruling that noted confessed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four fellow accused did not oppose delay.

Neither did Pentagon prosecutors, who say Attorney General Eric Holder will decide by Nov. 16 whether to continue with the military commissions case or move the complex conspiracy trial to civilian federal court in the United States.

The five men could face execution if they are convicted of conspiracy in the mass murder of 2,973 people on Sept. 11, 2001. They allegedly plotted, financed and helped the 19 hijackers reach U.S. soil -- and have collectively submitted a written admission to the military court that says they welcome martyrdom.

President Barack Obama has ordered the prison camps closed early next year, meaning neither a military nor a federal trial would likely be held at Guantanamo.

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