(CN) – A U.S. military judge agreed to postpone the trial of five prisoners charged in the Sept. 11 terrorism attacks for another two months, giving the Obama administration a chance to decide how to proceed with prosecution.
With the delay, government officials have a chance to determine whether to try the detainees under military tribunals or move them to U.S. federal courts.
Army Col. Stephen Henley approved the government’s motion for a 60-day delay of the competency hearing for Ramzi bin al Shibh, marking the third delay in the prisoner’s criminal proceedings.
The order also delays the trials of al-Qaida leader Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, along with Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak bin Attash, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, and Mustafa al Hawsawi. Mohammad and two other detainees facing criminal charges sent a notice to Judge Henley indicating their acceptance of the delay, prompting Henley to grant the order without a hearing. Al Hawsawi and bin al Shibh have not yet been found mentally competent to act as their own lawyers, and their counsel had already approved the delay.
Under the order, Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have until Nov. 16 to decide whether to prosecute the detainees in U.S. federal civilian courts or at Guantanamo.
The Obama administration has faced congressional opposition for entertaining the possibility of bringing the detainees to the United States for incarceration or trial. Two hundred and twenty-five prisoners remain at the Guantanamo facility.
The order was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.