The arraignment of accused 9/11 terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four codefendants took on a circus-like atmosphere as outbursts and objections swept through the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base in Cuba on Saturday, CNN reported.
Charges were originally filed against the five suspects in 2008, but were dropped by the Obama administration due to negative publicity surrounding interrogation methods used at the Cuban military base.
With the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin laden, It is the first and only trial to arise out of the 2001 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, according to the Los Angeles Times. The hearing began at 9 a.m. and ran until 10:30 p.m. with the reading of charges.
According to the Daily Beast:
Judge James Pohl scolded attorneys for refusing to follow his carefully articulated script for the proceeding; lawyers argued they were not qualified to defend their clients; translators interrupted lawyers to insist they be quiet; defendants refused to answer any questions from the judge or even acknowledge they’d been asked; one interrupted the proceedings first to pray and again to shout out his fears of being attacked by members of the prosecution team; another who started the day shackled to his chair ended it by stripping to the waist to display scars he claims were inflicted by his Guantánamo guards.
All five men refused to enter pleas, which is a complete shift from 2008 when they voiced their intent to plead guilty. The men’s provisional attorneys raised arguments about the suspects’ treatment during what is now nearly a decade in captivity, the Daily Beast reported. The attorneys criticized restrictions that prevented their clients from talking about torture.
"These men have endured years of inhumane treatment and torture," James Connell, who is representing defendant Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, told CNN.
Some of the charges the five suspects will face include: terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder in violation of the law of war and attacking civilians. They could face the death penalty if convicted.
Eddie Bracken, one of the victim family members who watched the arraignment unfold, said he took offense to the defendants and their attorneys criticizing the proceedings. Bracken’s sister worked on the 105th floor of the south tower of the World Trade Center, where she was one of about 3,000 people killed when two hijacked planes slammed into the towers.
"Just listening to that rhetoric, how they perceive themselves — it’s hurtful, because they have no remorse. I don’t think they even have any souls," Bracken told reporters.