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Pentagon announces charges for key 9/11 suspects, seeking death penalty
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10:19, February 12, 2008

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The U.S. Pentagon announced Monday numerous charges for six key suspects of 9/11 terror attacks and said it is seeking the death penalty against them.

The Bush administration will submit criminal charges against the six men, who include alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Brig Gen. Thomas Hartman, a Pentagon legal advisor told a press briefing.

The detainees will be charged with murder, conspiracy to commit murder, attacking on civilians, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, terrorism and hijacking, he said.

The 169 charges allege a "long-term highly sophisticated plan by al-Qaida to attack the United States of America," Hartman said.

Military prosecutors will submit the charges along with a request to seek the death penalty in the cases, and a judge will have to approve charges and the request, according to him.

All six suspects are accused of helping plan the 9/11 attacks in which hijackers flew two jets into the World Trade Center in New York and another jet into the Pentagon in Washington.

Another hijacked plane crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Nearly 3,000 people, excluding the hijackers, were killed in the attacks.

Also among the charged are Mohammed al-Qahtani, the so-called 20th hijacker in the 9/11 attacks; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, accused of being an intermediary between the hijackers and al-Qaida leaders; Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, who has been identified as Mohammed's lieutenant; al-Baluchi's alleged assistant, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi; and Walid bin Attash, who is accused of selecting and training some hijackers.

If a judge approves the charges, it will mark the first time that Guantanamo detainees have been charged in 9/11 attacks.

About 380 foreign nationals are being held at Guantanamo.

The detainees' lawyers have repeatedly complained that their clients are being denied due process.

The U.S. Supreme Court has expressed twice reservations about how the government handles detainees at the U.S. naval base.

The six Guantanamo detainees will go to trial under a system approved by the Military Commissions Act passed by the Congress last year.

The law provides terror suspects with a limited right to appeal any conviction. It also reduced the jurisdiction of federal courts.

Not much is known about how the commissions system works.

The detainees will have lawyers, and they will be allowed to see at least some of the evidence against them.

One legal issue that could stall the trial is whether prosecutors will be able to use confessions or other information gleaned using controversial interrogation techniques.

Source: Xinhua

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