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Guantanamo judge denies trial delays

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba – A military judge on Thursday denied motions to delay the arraignments of five Guantanamo detainees suspected of mounting the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

In his ruling, Marine Col. Ralph Kohlmann said the military commission finds the interests of justice in the complex legal case will be best served by completion of the arraignments on June 5.

“It is precisely because of the anticipated complexity of this case that it is important that the process get under way,” Kohlmann said in the ruling.

Military lawyers had sought to postpone the first pretrial hearings for men charged with the 2001 attacks that killed almost 3,000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania, saying the government has made it impossible to defend them.

The highly anticipated arraignments are scheduled for June 5 at the remote U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The U.S. is seeking the death penalty for all five defendants, including confessed mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

The arraignments will precede a Supreme Court ruling on the legitimacy of the first U.S. war-crimes trials since World War II.

The court is expected to rule before June 30 whether the 270 men held at Guantanamo have access to regular U.S. courts, which could undermine the military trials.

The court declared a previous military tribunal system unconstitutional in 2006.


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