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Guantanamo judge to hear 9/11 suspect's bid for separate trial

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[August 11, 2014]  By Ian Simpson
 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A Guantanamo Bay military judge this week will hear a request by a suspect in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks for a separate trial, a move that comes after the U.S. judge ordered one for another accused plotter.

Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, a 46-year-old Saudi, argued in a pretrial filing that his alleged role was smaller than his four co-defendants' and joint prosecution would violate his rights to a fair trial and to confront accusers.

Al-Hawsawi, who is suspected of helping move the Sept. 11 hijackers to the United States, also did not share a common intent with the others to commit the attacks, the filing on the war-court website said.

His motion is among 20 to be heard by Army Colonel James Pohl, the judge overseeing the hearings set to run from Monday to Friday at the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Al-Hawsawi is among five men, including suspected ringleader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, charged with conspiring to kill civilians in the hijacked airliner attacks. Almost 3,000 people were killed at New York's World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a field in Pennsylvania.

Pohl ordered a separate trial last month for Ramzi bin al-Shibh, a 42-year-old Yemeni who allegedly helped run the Hamburg, Germany, cell of hijackers.

In his ruling, Pohl said removing bin al-Shibh was in the interests of justice because of issues related to his competence to stand trial and a potential conflict of interest in his defense team.

Bin al-Shibh has complained he hears sounds and vibrations in his cell. He was ordered out of the courtroom in December for outbursts about "torture" and a "secret CIA prison."

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Prosecutors filed an emergency motion on July 29 to reverse the ruling. It was under seal on the website on Friday.

The defendants could be executed if convicted of charges that include mass murder, terrorism and hijacking.

They were captured in 2002 and 2003 and were first charged at Guantanamo in 2008. The tribunals and the charges were revised by the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama, and the defendants were arraigned on the current charges in May 2012.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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