Five 9/11 attack accused in Guantanamo may escape death by way of plea deal: Report

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Five defendants, charged for masterminding 9/11 attacks may escape death penalty in a plea deal, CBS News has said in a report. There is a possibility that by pleading guilty to the charges, the accused may get handed long prison sentences but not the death penalty. The trials have stalled over the issue of access to CIA evidence. COVID-19 pandemic added more delay.

Chief defendant among the group of five is Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, Walid bin Attash and Ammar al-Baluchi are others. 

The possibility of these accused escaping death penalty has caused great anger in families of 9/11 victims.

“The families are outraged,” said Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles “Chic” Burlingame, the pilot of one of the planes that were hijacked by the terrorists.

“They don’t want closure, they want justice.” added Burlingame, as she spoke of angst of the families. She was quoted by CBS News. 

Watch | 21 years on, five accused of 9/11 attacks still remain in detention centre

However, as per the report, some families appear to be fine with the accused admitting that they are guilty, even if it means they evade the gallows.

9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows said that a guilty plea “would be partly in recognition of the torture each of the defendants experienced” and bring “some measure of judicial finality.”

James Connell, lawyer for one of the accused appeared to hint at the possibility of a plea deal. He described the case as a “forever trial”. He said that all the defendants were engaged in ‘good faith negotiations” with the government.

Also Read | 9/11 attacks: Biden lays wreath at Pentagon to honour lost lives on 21st anniversary

protectants’ lawyer underline the ‘interrogation’ of the accused which critics say was extreme torture.

A spokesperson of military trials reportedly did not answer questions on the matter of the plea deal but confirmed that “the parties are currently engaged in preliminary plea negotiations.”

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