US govt wants to speed up hearings for 9/11 suspects

US govt wants to speed up hearings for 9/11 suspects

FORT MEADE, UNITED STATES - The US government on Monday pushed for an acceleration of preliminary hearings in the case of five alleged 9/11 plotters as the proceedings resumed in Guantanamo Bay.

Lead prosecutor Brigadier General Mark Martins told the court he hoped to see progress "this week" after prosecutors filed a motion calling for a September 2014 trial date.

Self-declared 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed - wearing camouflage garb and his beard tinted with henna - appeared in the military court at the US prison in Cuba with his four co-defendants.

All face the death penalty if convicted of plotting the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, which left nearly 3,000 people dead. Preliminary hearings in the case began in May 2012.

"The current practice of being in court for five days approximately every six weeks is inefficient and will result in litigation that is unnecessarily prolonged, and does not serve the interests of justice," the prosecutors' motion said.

Defence lawyers countered, however, that their efforts had been hindered by a variety of factors.

The hearings have been delayed due to storms and problems in retransmitting the proceedings from the US prison in Cuba to the Fort Meade military base outside Washington.

David Nevin, who represents Mohammed, said Internet problems were slowing down defence efforts. "We can't handle discovery correctly," he said.

Cheryl Bormann, lawyer for Walid bin Attash, called for the hearing to be suspended, saying her client was unwell. Walter Ruiz, who represents Saudi national Mustapha al-Hawsawi, cited his client's "neck condition."

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