Five days of hearings scheduled for next week in the case of the accused plotters of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks were postponed after defense lawyers said internal documents went missing on government computers.
The judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, postponed the hearings until mid-June in a two-page order posted today.
Lawyers for the accused plotters requested the delay last week after complaining that their confidential work was inexplicably missing from the U.S. Defense Department computers on which they store documents.
Army Lt. Colonel Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement that the Office of Military Commissions, which is prosecuting the case, “suffered from a nearly catastrophic server ‘crash’” that led to “losses of indiscriminate data.” Of almost 400 gigabytes of data initially lost, “seven gigabytes have yet to be accounted for,” he said.
Hearings in the case, which began last year, have been plagued by delay. In August, the threat of a hurricane canceled a week of arguments while hearings this year were slowed as the judge probed defense claims that the government was eavesdropping on them.
The next round of hearings will begin on June 17, the judge said.
Accused mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the four other defendants are accused of plotting the attacks that used hijacked passenger airplanes to kill almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center in Manhattan, the Pentagon in Virginia, and in Pennsylvania.
They are charged with conspiring to finance, train and direct the 19 hijackers who seized the planes, terrorism, hijacking aircraft, conspiracy, murder in violation of the laws of war and attacking civilians. They could be executed if convicted.
The case is U.S. v. Mohammed, Military Commissions Trial (Guantanamo Bay, Cuba).
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