WASHINGTON — The self-proclaimed mastermind of the September 11 attacks and four co-defendants are seeking to delay their August hearing at the US military jail at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba so that they can observe Ramadan, their lawyers said Wednesday.
The Pentagon-funded lawyer for the nephew of 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, said the judge had "many options," including extending a subsequent hearing set for September 8-12, which falls during the end of Ramadan.
"The last 10 days of Ramadan are the holiest part of the Muslim calendar and they are typically observed by fasting and prayer and seclusion," said attorney James Connell, whose client is Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, told AFP.
Trial judge Colonel James Pohl set the August 8-12 preliminary hearing date, indicating that he would not accept a delay request and noting that defense lawyers had raised no earlier objections to a hearing during the Muslim holy month.
Connell, for his part, acknowledged that "we should have raised the issue of Ramadan" in May.
The defense lawyers' request was made in a filing currently under seal on the war court's website.
During Ramadan, set to take place July 20 through August 18 in the Americas, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk and strive to be more pious and charitable.
The last 10 days are considered particularly blessed and observant Muslims are expected to show particular devotion during that time.
During the May 5 arraignment, the five men were formally accused of causing the deaths of 2,976 people on September 11, 2001.
The five defendants, who sought to disrupt the arraignment hearing by praying and making outbursts in the courtroom, face the death penalty if convicted.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »