Sunday, February 5, 2012

Pentagon refuses extension for Guantanamo Sept. 11 trial

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) – A Pentagon legal official refused Friday to extend an important deadline for defense lawyers for the five Guantanamo Bay prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 attack, a decision that means their highly anticipated arraignment may now occur within months.

Bruce MacDonald, the Pentagon official who oversees the war crimes trials at the U.S. base in Cuba, refused separate requests for extensions from the lawyers for all five prisoners, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the attacks. The lawyers had asked for extensions ranging from three months to a year to file motions arguing against capital charges that would make the men eligible for the death penalty if convicted. These are the final motions before MacDonald sends the long-stalled case to a military tribunal for trial, and the decision means an arraignment may take place at Guantanamo as early as this spring.