Sept. 11 trial at Guantanamo may face new delay

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — Lawyers for at least two Guantanamo Bay prisoners accused of planning the Sept. 11 attack asked the Pentagon on Thursday to extend a deadline for pretrial motions, which could again delay a case that has been stalled by political and legal disputes for years.

The attorneys for Ramzi Binalshibh and Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi sent letters requesting the extension to the Pentagon legal official who oversees the war crimes tribunals at the U.S. base in Cuba but did not receive an immediate response.

Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, the lawyer appointed to represent al-Hawsawi, said it was likely that extensions also will be sought by attorneys for other prisoners accused in the attack. The U.S. has charged five prisoners in all, including the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

Pentagon spokesman David Oten said the requests for extensions were under consideration.

The lawyers are seeking more time to prepare legal motions addressing whether the five prisoners should face the death penalty for charges that include murder. The Pentagon’s Convening Authority is to consider those motions before finalizing the charges and arraigning the men before a tribunal known as a military commission.

Once charges are finalized, or “referred to commission” in the language of the Pentagon, the military has 30 days to arraign the prisoners at the base.

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