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15 Jun, 2008 01:25

Guantanamo under fire as 9/11 trials begin

The Bush administration suffered a major setback this week when the Supreme Court overturned a 2006 ruling preventing Guantanamo detainees from appealing in civilian courts. Speaking in Rome on Thursday, during a farewell tour of Europe, President Bush sa

The ruling comes as five men accused of organising the 9/11 attacks face military trial in Guantanamo.

Human rights groups say they were subjected to inhumane methods of interrogation which could undermine the authenticity of their testimonies.

The Guantanamo bay detention centre has come under widespread criticism for its conditions and methods of interrogation.

The official trial of the five detainees charged is set to start in September, just two months before the U.S. Presidential election. If found guilty, the men could face the death penalty.
Less than a week ago, their arraignment, a legal procedure of being formally charged, took place at Camp Delta, a U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. The camp was set up during the presidency of George Bush, and has received worldwide disapproval.

The detainees were captured six years ago, held in custody in secret prisons and have spent the last two years at Guantanamo. The men are reported to have been subjected to what the U.S. government calls “enhanced interrogation techniques”.

The accused are calling this torture.

According to Human Rights Watch, more than two-thirds of detainees at Guantanamo are being housed in inhumane conditions.

The 9/11 case is being heard at a military commission. Amnesty International had an observer at the proceedings. Its annual report calls upon the Bush Administration to shut down Guantanamo, as well as other detention centres.

The organisation is also calling for fair trials and the end of torture.

Due to this, the confessions of one of the men charged, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who says he masterminded the 9/11 attacks, are causing doubts, because of the possibility of his having confessed under duress.

Meanwhile, some analysts see a political twist in the 9/11 trial. Presidential candidates Obama and McCain have both vowed to shut down the Guantanamo detention camp if elected.