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US prosecutors ready for long haul in 9/11 case

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- U.S. prosecutors and defense attorneys for five defendants in the Sept. 11 attacks dug in on Sunday for a long legal battle that one lawyer said may never be resolved.

The military tribunal is not expected to start for almost another year and if Saturday's 13-hour arraignment was an accurate preview, the trial will be chaotic and drawn out with continuing disputes about torture and whether a military trial is appropriate.

The defendants on Saturday refused to enter pleas and demanded a full reading of the charges against them. The proceeding was interrupted by outbursts from the defendants, one of whom stripped off his shirt to show scars.

The judge, Army Colonel James Pohl, set the next hearing for June 12 and said the trial will not start until at least mid-2013. Chief Prosecutor Army Brigadier General Mark Martins said at a Sunday news conference he was not discouraged by the slow pace.

“However long the journey ... the United States is committed to accountability under law for those who have plotted to attack our nation and to kill innocent people,” he said.

Almost 3,000 people died in 2001 when operatives from Osama bin Laden's militant Islamic group al-Qaida flew hijacked airliners into the World Trade Center towers in New York, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania.

Turning aside defense arguments the tribunals are illegitimate, Martins said that admitted Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants are being tried in a system endorsed by the U.S. Congress and two U.S. presidents.

Defense Claims Tribunal 'misguided'

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