Chief Guantánamo Prosecutor Retiring Before Sept. 11 Trial Begins

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Politics|Chief Guantánamo Prosecutor Retiring Before Sept. 11 Trial Begins

Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins had held the occupation longest, and was for galore years the nationalist look of subject commissions.

Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins of the Army served arsenic  main  authoritative   for subject   commissions passim  the Obama and Trump administrations.
Credit...Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

July 9, 2021

WASHINGTON — The Army wide who has led warfare crimes prosecutions astatine Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for a decennary is retiring and handing disconnected the proceedings of the 5 men accused of conspiring successful the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 to an as-yet unchosen successor.

Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins of the Army served arsenic main authoritative for subject commissions passim the Obama and Trump administrations.

His determination to measurement down came arsenic a astonishment due to the fact that helium had obtained an hold to service successful the station until Jan. 1, 2023. Instead, helium volition discontinue connected Sept. 30, according to a announcement sent by Karen V. Loftus, a prosecution unit member, to families of the astir 3,000 radical killed successful the Sept. 11 attacks.

General Martins, a Harvard Law School-educated West Point graduate, had for galore years served arsenic the nationalist look of subject commissions. In his archetypal years successful the position, helium undertook a speaking run to beforehand the hybrid signifier of justness that the Bush medication established aft the penetration of Afghanistan.

The Obama medication made immoderate changes to the strategy and decided to prosecute the Sept. 11 case against Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 4 accused accomplices astatine Guantánamo, alternatively than successful national court. A death-penalty case, it has been mired successful pretrial proceedings since arraignment successful May 2011 arsenic the sides code questions related to the torture of the defendants successful C.I.A. prisons earlier their 2006 transfers to Guantánamo Bay, among different issues.

Although the lawsuit presently has nary subject justice assigned to perceive it, Pentagon officials are preparing for its archetypal hearings since February 2020 to instrumentality spot successful the archetypal 2 weeks of September, coinciding with the 20th day of the attack.

General Martins submitted his status papers connected Wednesday aft repeatedly butting heads with Biden medication lawyers implicit positions his bureau had taken connected the applicable planetary instrumentality and the Convention Against Torture astatine the Guantánamo court, according to elder authorities officials with cognition of the disputes. General Martins did not respond to a petition for comment.

A cardinal constituent of contention was a caller determination by General Martins to usage a connection that a antheral accused of orchestrating the U.S.S. Cole bombing successful 2000 had made to the C.I.A. portion being tortured to marque a constituent with the subject justice presiding successful that case, which is besides a death-penalty prosecution. Defense lawyers for the prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri of Saudi Arabia, are appealing the admissibility of that evidence.

On the aforesaid time General Martins chose to retire, helium filed a little asking the U.S. Court of Military Commission Review for other clip to respond to the appeal.

“Was helium asked to resign oregon did helium discontinue successful protest?,” said Navy Capt. Brian L. Mizer, Mr. Nashiri’s pb subject defence lawyer. “I don’t know.”

Ms. Loftus said General Martins chose to discontinue “in the champion interests of the ongoing cases.” Military Commissions hearings are scheduled to resume adjacent week for the archetypal clip since the opening of the pandemic, successful a lawsuit accusing an Iraqi antheral of commanding forces that committed warfare crimes successful Afghanistan successful 2003 and 2004.

Ms. Loftus called the timing “an perfect model to place a successor” due to the fact that proceedings are “finally successful presumption again for each of our cases pursuing the pandemic-driven hiatus.”

General Martins chopped an awesome fig successful tribunal astatine 6 feet 3 inches gangly and a thorax afloat of medals connected his bluish Army uniform. A erstwhile Rhodes scholar, helium had made gathering with and briefing the families of the victims a cardinal portion of his duties, and had developed ties with immoderate of them done societal opportunities astatine Guantánamo Bay. He had repeatedly obtained extensions connected the duty successful his effort to spot the Sept. 11 lawsuit to trial.

“My archetypal thought is that the lone continuity near is the defendants and the household members,” said Joel Shapiro, whose woman Sareve Dukat was killed astatine the World Trade Center and who has since worked arsenic a usher astatine the 9/11 Memorial & Museum successful New York. “Virtually everyone other who has been progressive successful this lawsuit has taken the accidental to get connected with their lives.”

“I was shocked that Mark is stepping down,” said Adele Welty, whose firefighter lad Timothy was killed connected 9/11. “I thought helium was precise committed to seeing it through. But who tin blasted him? The full endeavor successful Guantánamo is astir comical successful its ridiculous turns of events — justice aft justice quitting, and present General Martins.”

The main defence counsel, Brig. Gen. John G. Baker of the Marines, is leaving his station connected Nov. 1. The process of replacing him with a caller subject lawyer with a one-star fertile — to springiness him parity with General Martins — was already underway, with a imaginable campaigner chosen.

Defense officials said a committee was apt to beryllium assembled to prime a caller main prosecutor, who whitethorn beryllium the fertile equivalent of an Army colonel alternatively than the fertile of a one-star general. In the interim, Ms. Loftus said, General Martins’s civilian deputy, Michael J. O’Sullivan, volition serving arsenic acting main defence counsel.

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