United States V. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - Charges

Charges

In an 88-page complaint, the group was charged under the military commission system, as established under the Military Commissions Act of 2006, with attacking civilians, attacking civilian objects, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, murder in violation of the law of war, destruction of property in violation of the law of war, hijacking or hazarding a vessel or aircraft, terrorism, and providing material support for terrorism. If convicted, the five will face the death penalty.

The charges include 2,973 individual counts of murder — one for each person killed in the 9/11 attacks.

The U.S. government is seeking the death penalty, which would require the unanimous agreement of the commission judges.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Center for Constitutional Rights, and U.S. military defense lawyers have criticised the military commissions for lacking necessary rights for a fair trial. Critics generally argue for a trial either in a federal district court as a common criminal suspect, or by court-martial as a prisoner under the Geneva Conventions which prohibit civilian trials for prisoners of war. Mohammed could face the death penalty under any of these systems.

The Pentagon insisted that Mohammed and the other defendant would receive a fair trial, with rights "virtually identical" to U.S. military service personnel. However, there are some differences between U.S. courts-martial and military commissions.

The U.S. Defence Department has built a $12 million "Expeditionary Legal Complex" in Guantánamo with a snoop-proof courtroom capable of trying six alleged co-conspirators before one judge and jury. Media and other observers are sequestered in a soundproofed room behind thick glass, at the rear. The judge at the front and a court security officer have mute buttons to silence the feed to the observers' booth—if they suspect someone in court could spill classified information.

Read more about this topic:  United States V. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

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