Five people, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are awaiting trial on terrorism and murder charges at the U.S. naval base.
The long-pending trial of five key detainees at Guantanamo naval base will take place in early 2021, a military judge said. The five are charged with offences ranging from murder to terrorism, and face the death penalty if convicted.
Air Force Col W Shane Cohen on Friday set the start date in an order setting hearing deadlines in a case that has been bogged down in pretrial litigation. The five defendants were arraigned in May 2012 on charges of planning and aiding the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
In setting the January 11, 2021, start, Cohen noted that the trial at the U.S. base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, "will face a host of administrative and logistics challenges."
The U.S. has charged the five with war crimes that include terrorism, hijacking and nearly 3,000 counts of murder for their alleged roles planning and providing logistical support to the September 11 plot. They could get the death penalty if convicted at the military trial, which combines elements of civilian and military law.
The five defendants include Khalid Shaikh Mohammad, a senior al Qaida figure who is seen as the mastermind of the September 11 attacks and other terrorist plots.
Mohammad and his four co-defendants have been held at Guantanamo since September 2006 after several years in clandestine CIA detention facilities following their capture, practice called extraordinary rendition, which is government sponsored abduction and detention without any due process of law.