Move throws case against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed into chaos as defense team says ‘fatally flawed’ Guantánamo military tribunal should be ended

A courtroom sketch of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, whose defense team said it received a sealed order in February that the judge had permitted the government to destroy evidence. Photograph: Janet Hamlin/AP

Spencer Ackerman in New York
Wednesday 11 May 2016
The Guardian

An explosive allegation about destroyed evidence threatens to unravel the already shaky military tribunal for the alleged architect of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Attorneys for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed are calling on the judge and the entire prosecution team in Mohammed’s military commission at Guantánamo Bay to step down from the long-running case over what a member of the defense team called “at least the appearance of collusion” that led to the government apparently secretly destroying information relevant to the premier post-9/11 tribunal.

The defense team further argues that the destruction of evidence ought to spell the end of Mohammed’s military trial entirely, a development that would leave the Obama administration and its successor to come up with an entirely new plan for what to do with the top terror suspect in US custody.

“Now, and indeed over other matters previously, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s military commission is fatally flawed,” said David Nevin, Mohammed’s lead attorney.

The prosecution in the 9/11 military tribunal is seeking the death penalty for the self-described architect of the attacks, who has been in US custody for more than 12 years.

The details of what happened are not known because the unclassified legal filing is not yet publicly available. The specific allegations were filed on Tuesday before the commission, but the filing must clear a routine security review that all such legal documents before the commission undergo.

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