9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's trial threatened by 'legal dispute'

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 26, 2013 09:40 hrs

The trial of September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has been thrown into turmoil by a legal dispute that could hand the terror suspect and his alleged co-conspirators strong grounds for appeal, a report has said.

The US Defence Department is at loggerheads with the chief prosecutor at Guantanamo Bay over what the charges should be.

The five men, whose pretrial hearings reconvene at the naval base next week, face eight different charges.

Brig Gen Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor, however, said the charge of conspiracy should be dropped because it was no longer "legally viable" following a court ruling that conspiracy, a charge that seeks to punish suspects for association with al-Qaeda, was not a recognised war crime under international law.

This meant it could not legitimately be brought before a war-crimes tribunal such as Guantanamo, the Telegraph reports.

According to the paper, Gen Martins said retaining the conspiracy charges against the September 11 suspects could leave the prosecution open to "legal challenge" and cause "uncertainty and delay".

Guantanamo Bay's "convening authority", a branch of the Pentagon, however, said it would be "premature" to drop the conspiracy charges, hoping that the Supreme Court might reinstate their legality, the paper added. (ANI)

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