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Defendants boycott 9/11 terrorism tribunal

The military tribunal for the 9/11 terrorism case resumed yesterday without three of the five defendants – the result of a judge's ruling that the men could not be forced to attend the session.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the main defendant, is among those who chose to sit out the second day of a week-long pre-trial hearing. A naval commander, whose name was not released by the court, said the self-professed terrorist was taken from his prison cell at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to a holding cell outside the courtroom. He then chose at the last minute to boycott the hearing.

Mohammed, who has previously said he planned the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001, gave no reason for his absence. However, he dismissed the military tribunal on Monday, saying: "I don't think there is any justice in this court."

The other defendants who chose to sit out were a Saudi, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, and a Pakistani national Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali. Neither provided any reason for their absence.

All five defendants are charged with terrorism and murder. They face the death penalty if convicted at a trial that is likely to be at least a year away.