9/11 suspect asks again to fire his lawyers in Guantanamo trial
A Yemeni detainee at Guantanamo Bay moved to fire his attorneys for a second time on Tuesday, delaying a pre-trial hearing for five men charged with plotting the September 11 attacks on the United States.
Suspected al Qaeda training camp leader Walid bin Attash told Judge Army Colonel James Pohl he did not trust two of his three court-appointed lawyers.
"The problem is that the attorneys became the enemy," bin Attash said through an interpreter at the military tribunal. "I cannot work with someone who cheats me."
In October, Pohl denied a request by bin Attash to fire Cheryl Bormann, his attorney in the death penalty case, saying he failed to show good cause.
Bin Attash had said he did not trust Bormann, a Chicago lawyer who has represented him since 2011. He also voiced frustration that his attorneys have not been able to resolve complaints about conditions at the prison.
Pohl agreed on Tuesday to accept a letter from bin Attash that makes a new case for why he should be allowed to remove Bormann and his other senior defense attorney, Air Force Captain Michael Schwartz.
Proceedings at the U.S. military base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were cancelled for the day to allow for the letter to be translated into English and reviewed. The hearing will resume on Wednesday.
Bin Attash said he might be willing to keep a newly assigned attorney, Army Major Matthew Seeger, whom he met for the first time on Monday.
More than 30 motions are scheduled for the 11-day hearing. They include questions about prisoner treatment and what evidence the prosecution will provide about the years the men spent at secret Central Intelligence Agency prisons.
Last week, Chief Prosecutor Brigadier General Mark Martins wrote a letter to the families of victims in the attack, assuring them that "progress toward trial is being made."
"It is true that this case presents higher stakes and greater legal and logistical challenges than, possibly, any other trial in U.S. history," wrote Martins.
Almost 3,000 people were killed when hijackers slammed airliners into New York's World Trade Centre, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field on Sept. 11, 2001.
The hearing was monitored over closed-circuit television at a press room at Fort Meade, outside Washington.