A day after self-proclaimed September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his four alleged co-conspirators were arraigned in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prosecutors and defense lawyers disagreed Sunday over whether the detainees had been tortured by their captors.
The defense team has asked for the case to start in a year, so that the accusations of torture and alleged mistreatment can be addressed.
During Saturday's marathon 13-hour arraignment, the defendants repeatedly interrupted the proceedings by kneeling in payer, ignoring the judge and not listening to Arabic translations. One suspect even removed his shirt to show supposed scars.
The five men put off their pleas until a later date.
"The government wants to kill Mr. Mohammed. They want to extinguish the last eyewitness to his torture, so that he can never speak again about it," said David Nevin, the counsel for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.
"Everybody is free of accountability, because someone else who may have been acting independently or out of control did something wrong? That's not justice. It's harder than that," said Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, the chief prosecutor.
The defendants' next hearing is scheduled for June 12.
9/11 Family Member At Guantanamo Speaks Out
Meanwhile, a Staten Island resident who lost his sister in the September 11th terrorist attacks and who watched the Saturday arraignment told reporters that he found the proceedings to be frustrating but an important example of the American justice system.
Eddie Bracken, who lost his sister Lucy Fishman, told reporters in Cuba on Sunday morning it was his duty as a grieving brother to see self-confessed September 11th mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed with his own eyes.
Speaking on behalf of other September 11th victims' families present at the trial, Bracken said he considered the Guantanamo military base to be the "safest place on the earth" for such a trial and that Mohammed and his alleged co-conspirators deserved a military tribunal.
"They're considered soldiers, in their heads? They're going to get a military tribunal," said Bracken.
Nevertheless, Bracken said the defendants need a fair trial, to show the world can see how the U.S. Constitution and justice system work.
"Do I like the men? Absolutely not. Do I respect the men who are defending them? Yes, because they are doing their job, they are upholding the Constitution," said Bracken.
As Bracken heard the charges read aloud in court, a process that took two-and-a-half hours, he said he was brought back to September 11th, when he saw the second plane crash into the World Trade Center.
"It was reliving a lot of my old memories and as I saw all five of them, I was really looking at them intensely, because they did that," said Bracken.
He said the defendants showed no remorse, claimed, "I don't think they have souls," and shrugged off concern for their treatment.
"They're complaining and our families can't complain no more. I wouldn't care if they were on a bed of nails," said Bracken. "But it's our justice system and they have rights for now."
The grieving family member thanked President Barack Obama for ordering the military raid in Pakistan that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden last year, and said the terrorists' actions "will never kill the American spirit."
Bracken admitted he took offense when one defendant, Ramzi Binalshibh, smiled and gave a thumbs-up signal in the direction of the victims' families. Some claimed that Binalshibh had meant the gesture for his translator, but Bracken saw it as a slight to the victims.
“If this was Brooklyn, it would have been a different story," said Bracken.
9/11 Family Member Eddie Bracken Shares His StoryWatch the full 18-minute statement of September 11th family member Eddie Bracken
NY1: Gitmo Defense Team Focuses On Torture Claims
Time Warner Cable video customers:
Sign in with your TWC ID to access our video clips.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.