New bid to avert death in Sept. 11 Gitmo trial
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico (AP) — The nephew of a self-proclaimed terrorist mastermind who is facing a war crimes tribunal at Guantanamo Bay does not deserve capital charges that carry a potential death sentence, his lawyers argued in a motion filed Friday.
Lawyers for Ali Abdul Aziz Ali say he is accused of a relatively minor role in the Sept. 11 attack, compared to his co-defendants, and his case should be downgraded to a non-capital case.
They argue in their motion that the U.S. has typically reserved the death penalty in terrorism cases to defendants who are accused of planning an attack or being a direct participant. They also note the military has filed non-capital charges this week against Majid Khan, a prisoner at Guantanamo who is accused of having a more substantial role in terrorist plots than their client.
Aziz Ali, also known as Ammar Al-Baluchi, is accused of sending money in 2000 to some of the Sept. 11 hijackers and providing other logistical help as they passed through the United Arab Emirates.
"Mr. Al-Baluchi's relatively minor, logistical role in the conspiracy would not justify the death penalty under the standards applied in federal courts and courts-martial," said one of his attorneys, James Connell.
Aziz Ali, a 34-year-old Pakistani citizen, has been held at the U.S. base in Cuba since September 2006. Prosecutors have filed charges against him and four others, including his uncle, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 attack as well as 30 other plots around the world.
A Pentagon legal official known as the Convening Authority must approve the charges and decide whether it should be a capital case before the five prisoners can be arraigned at Guantanamo.
Connell and Aziz Ali's military lawyer, Air Force Maj. Sterling Thomas, had filed an earlier motion urging that their client not face capital charges, and resubmitted it Friday to point out what they see as uneven treatment of Khan and their client.
It is not known when the Convening Authority will announce his decision.