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Guantanamo's five 9/11 suspects 'confess' in bid to force US to execute them

The five Guantanamo prisoners charged with plotting the 11 September attacks made a dramatic joint appeal yesterday for a military judge to accept their confessions in full.

The men, who include the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, are directly challenging the US to execute them.

The men's eventual execution is certain to be portrayed as a martyrdom by their supporters, and if it goes ahead would deny the US the opportunity of describing in full their crimes.

What was expected to be a routine hearing yesterday was transformed when the judge, Colonel Steven Henley, revealed that the men had handed in a statement declaring that they planned "to announce our confessions".

Judge Henley suggested that he would not accept guilty pleas without formal proceedings. He then began questioning each of the men to assess if they agreed with the statement.

"We don't want to waste our time with motions," Mr Mohammed told the judge. "All of you are paid by the US government. I'm not trusting any American." For months the men have been resisting working with the military lawyers assigned to them.

Relatives of the victims are at the court this week and some said they were relieved the judge had not immediately accepted the guilty pleas.

"I'm proud that the commission is not taking the bait," said Alice Hoagland, whose son was killed in the attacks. Ms Hoagland was among the first group of relatives allowed into the court.