A guard tower at Camp 5 at the US military’s prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (Thomas WATKINS)
Washington (AFP) – The US military judge overseeing court proceedings for the alleged plotters of the September 11, 2001 attacks is retiring, the Pentagon said Monday, possibly triggering yet more delays to the slow-moving case.
The so-called “9/11 Five” — including alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — have been locked up at the Guantanamo Bay military prison for years and were first charged in 2008.
But an unending slew of legal missteps, issues with military court proceedings and problems stemming from evidence extracted under duress have seen the men’s prosecution morph into a quixotic attempt at justice.
After years of delays, it is still unclear when their trial will start.
The longtime judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, will be replaced by Marine Colonel Keith Parrella.
“On September 30, the term of Colonel Pohl’s current voluntary retiree recall will expire, and he made the personal decision not to request an additional voluntary retiree recall period,” Lieutenant Colonel Chris Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, told AFP.
Since the 9/11 Five were first charged, the taint of torture and of alleged wrongdoing — including claims the government spied on defense teams — have soured proceedings.
According to the Miami Herald, which first reported Pohl’s retirement, Parrella has been a military judge for just three years.
He will need to sift through years of motions and thousands of pages of transcripts to get up to speed on the complicated case.
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