Family members of some of those killed in the September 11 attacks were today watching via closed-circuit TV the self-proclaimed 'mastermind' and four co-defendants for a hearing at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The families planned to watch the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the others at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn, where others began gathering for a live broadcast of the hearing for family members, survivors and emergency personnel who responded to the attacks.
Six families of those killed were chosen by lottery to travel to Guantanamo to see the arraignment in person.
The arraignment of five Guantanamo prisoners accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks got off to a rocky start when the defendants removed their earphones and refused to listen to a Arabic-English translation of the judge's questions.
The judge recessed the hearing briefly and then resumed it with an interpreter providing translation that was audible to the whole court.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed mastermind of the hijacked plane attacks, refused to respond to the judge's questions about whether he was satisfied with his US military and civilian lawyers.
His lawyer, David Nevin said:
"I believe Mr. Mohammed will decline to address the court. I believe he's deeply concerned about the fairness of the proceeding"
The defence teams of the 9/11 suspects due to go on trial today have said they are preparing for a lengthy fight, planning challenges of the military tribunals and the secrecy that shrouds the case.
Lawyer James Connell, who represents defendant Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, told reporters gathered at the base to observe the hearing that the arraignment is "only the beginning". Mr Connell said:
– James Connell, Lawyer for defendant Ali Abd al-Aziz Al
"[The arraignment is] only the beginning of a trial that will take years to complete, followed by years of appellate review. I can't imagine any scenario where this thing gets wrapped up in six months.
Relatives of victims who died in the attacks of September 11, 2001 have spoken ahead of trials of those believed responsible in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Edward Bracken, who lost his sister in the attacks, Mary Henwood, who also lost her sister in the attacks, Tara Henwood-Butzbaugh, whose brother died in the attacks and Cliff Russell, who lost his firefighter brother, spoke to the media.
Formally known as military commissions, the tribunals have been criticized as a second-class system, rigged to convict, since they were first authorised in 2001.
The chief prosecutor, Army Brigadier General Mark Martins, acknowledge some concerns about the fairness of these trials.
The arraignment hearings for the accused 9/11 attack conspirators is due to start today.
The charges will be read, the accused will enter pleas, and the court will determine the schedule of the trial(s) for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin 'Attash, Ramzi Bin alShibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.