Sept 11 Trial: Accused allowed to talk among themselves

Was 9/11 defendant pressured to reject lawyers?

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba (AP) - U.S. military officers responsible for defending Guantanamo detainees will investigate why five men accused in the 9/11 attacks were allowed to talk among themselves at their arraignment.

They will look into whether one of the defendants was intimidated into rejecting his lawyers.

Lawyers for the man, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, complain he was pressured by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the former third-ranking al-Qaida leader and alleged mastermind of the 2001 attacks.

Al-Hawsawi allegedly helped the hijackers prepare for the attacks with money and Western-style clothing. At the hearing, he looked thin and frail as he sat on a pillow on his chair. The others appeared to be in robust health.

9-11 defendants defiant at Guantanamo arraignment

The man suspected of planning the 9-11 attacks says he'd welcome execution because it would make him a martyr.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed appeared with four co-defendants at an arraignment hearing at Guantanamo Bay. He generally showed respect for the military judge, but dismissed the proceedings as an "inquisition," not a trial.

He was noticeably thinner than when he was captured five years ago.

All five defendants say they want to represent themselves. The U.S. is seeking the death penalty for all of them.

No pleas were entered during the arraignment, which is the highest-profile test yet of the military's tribunal system. The trial also threatens to expose harsh interrogation techniques used on the men, who were held by the CIA before being moved to Guantanamo.

Al-Qaida leader denounces tribunals

The confessed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks calls his war crimes trial at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base "an inquisition," not a trial.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed seemed calm for the most part. But he became upset and denounced the tribunals as unfair after the judge told defense lawyers to be quiet and "sit down!"

Mohammed and his four alleged co-conspirators each face death if convicted of war crimes including murder, conspiracy and attacking civilians.

Mohammed says he would welcome becoming a "marytr."

At the arraignment -- his first appearance since his capture five years ago -- he sang verses from the Quran and rejected his attorneys, telling the judge that he wants to represent himself.

Wearing thick glasses and occasionally stroking his bushy gray beard, Mohammed seems thinner than the image of an unshaven man with disheveled hair that the U.S. showed to the world after his capture in Pakistan.

Posted by LS