Accused Sept. 11 Plotters to Be Arraigned; Lawyer Doesn't Expect Guilty Pleas

A lawyer for one of five defendants accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks said he doesn’t expect any guilty pleas in their arraignments on Saturday before a Guantanamo military tribunal.

Accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has claimed responsibility for the planning, and co-defendant Ramzi Binalshibh has said he was proud of the attacks, the Associated Press reports. But the civilian lawyer for Binalshibh, Jim Harrington, tells AP he expects all five defendants to fight the charges. “I don’t think anyone is going to plead guilty,” he says.

After the arraignment, a hearing will be held on defense motions regarding charges and secrecy rules. The trial is at least a year away. The government plans a closed-circuit feed of the proceedings to allow victims to watch the trial at military bases, though there will be a tape delay to allow censors to bleep out government secrets. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a motion (PDF) backing public access and asking the military commission to reject government attempts to censor statements by the defendants about their treatment, according to a press release.

The tribunals won’t be allowed to use testimony obtained through torture, but critics still see problems. Among them is Navy Cmdr. Walter Ruiz, the lawyer for a defendant accused of supplying money for the attacks. “You can take a $5 mule and put a $10,000 saddle on it and call it reformed,” Ruiz told AP. “You still have a $5 mule; it just has a fancy saddle.”

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