This month marks five years since the start of the pretrial hearings at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the five detainees accused of involvement in the terrorist attacks on America in September, 2001.
This week they returned to court.As another week of pretrial hearings wraps up the 23rd session in five years.
CGTN’s Nick Harper reports from Guantanamo on the lengthy court proceedings.
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Pretrials still underway for Guantanamo Bay detaineesThis month marks five years since the start of the pretrial hearings at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the five detainees accused of involvement in the terrorist attacks on America in September, 2001.This week they returned to court.As another week of pretrial hearings wraps up the 23rd session in five years. CGTN's Nick Harper reports from Guantanamo on the lengthy court proceedings.
Guantanamo Bay’s long-abandoned, long forgotten Camp X-Ray. Some detainees have been awaiting trial since it closed nearly 15 years ago.
James Smith and his daughter Patricia though have been waiting even longer for justice.
His wife, her mother, Moira a police officer died on September 11th. They came to watch this week’s hearings.
“This hasn’t progressed at all. And my family and so many other families we are still having to go through this and every time it’s brought up, or every time there’s delay, it’s putting salt in a wound. It’s really hard to deal with sometimes.”, said Patricia Smith a 9/11 victim’s daughter.
After five years of pretrial hearings the defendants remain behind bars, with no date set for the trial.
“No one actually knows when the trial will begin. We are currently scheduled for hearing through the end of 2018 but there is no particular trial date set yet. I will tell you that we, in our preparations, look towards a trial date in 2020 and intend to be ready for a trial.”, said James Connell the attorney for Ammar al Baluchi.
However, since Guantanamo was created, over 300 terror suspects have been successfully tried and convicted in U.S. federal courts, including radical cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, African embassy bomber Khalid al Fawwaz, and Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law Abu Ghaith.
“I think the military commissions are a complete failure. You have the most important terrorism case probably in the country’s history, you know it’s going nowhere, just stuck in the most preliminary stages. It’s a complete outrage. It’s an outrage for due process, it’s an outrage for victim’s families who have not seen this perpetrator brought to justice.”, said Jonathan Hafetz a former detainees’ attorney.
As the law stands the men can’t be tried anywhere else.
Congress has ruled that the five 9/11 defendants and all of the remaining 41 detainees can not be moved to U.S. soil for trial. A law change would be needed to overturn that. Something that currently seems unlikely.
Human rights groups have also raised questions about any eventual conviction from the 9/11 trial. Of the eight convictions the military court has secured, four have been completely or partially overturned on appeal.
The end of another day at Guantanamo’s Camp Justice. Another day of waiting for the defendants, and those who lost loved ones nearly 16 years ago.