Former US prosecutor denouces terror trial

Sat, May 5, 2012, 01:00

THE FORMER chief US prosecutor at Guantánamo has denounced the military trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, and four others accused of terrorism and due to appear in court today as intended primarily to prevent the defendants from presenting evidence of torture.

Morris Davis, a former colonel who was chief prosecutor when Mohammed was taken to Guantánamo in 2006, said the military commissions would be badly discredited in the eyes of the world by the use of evidence obtained from waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques used on the accused men.

Col Davis wanted to see President Barack Obama follow through on a commitment to move the trials to more open civilian courts but said that advocates of military tribunals had prevailed, in large part because the rules of evidence prevent the defendants from giving detailed descriptions of how they were tortured and other sensitive information.

“The truth is, the reason the apologists want a second-rate military commission option is because of what we did to the detainees, not because of what the detainees did to us,” he said.

“If you look beneath the layers on why there’s even an argument for military commissions, it’s really about our mistreatment of detainees.”

Other senior military lawyers have objected to the trials, including Rear Admiral Donald Gute.

Mohammed and his co-accused are to appear at an arraignment hearing at Guantánamo to plead to charges of mass murder and terrorism.