Plea may speed up Guantanamo closure

The United States hopes that a guilty plea from a detainee at Guantanamo Bay could speed up the stalled 9/11 trial process. Prasanth Aby Thomas reports on the issue.

US Military Officers have struck a deal with a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, which is likely to speed up trials on the September 11 attacks.

Majid Khan, 32, from Pakistan agreed to plead guilty on Wednesday, in exchange for 25 years imprisonment, to a number of charges connected to his role in alleged terror plots.

Jonathan Hafetz, a lawyer for other Guantanamo detainees said: “It’s part of a strategy of building more solid cases against the handful of defendants that the government plans to try before the commissions”.

The Washington Post reports that prosecutors accused Khan of plotting with, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attack, to blow up fuel tanks in the U.S., to assassinate former Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf and to provide assistance to al-Qaida.

Guantanamo Bay North East Gate. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Khan has already spent nine years at Guantanamo Bay and three years in a secret CIA jail before that. BBC reports that Khan’s plea makes him the seventh detainee to be convicted of war crimes since the establishment of a military tribunal at Guantanamo Bay.  He is the fifth to plead guilty among all the detainees and the first among those tagged as ‘high value’.

Karen Greenberg, a terrorism expert at Fordham Law School said: “If Khan provides information on KSM and others, as has been suggested was part of the deal, it will no doubt speed up the prosecutions”.

The move would be a victory for Barak Obama who has been criticised for failing to close down Guantanamo Bay even after promising to do so. The prison has had 779 inmates over the years, most of who were held without charge. The New York Times report that of these 600 have been transfered and 171 remain. Given that majority of the prisoners have been moved from the place,  pleading guilty might be the only way for those remaining in the prison to leave it.

Sources from AFP Feeds

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