Attorneys try to save 9/11 detainee from death penalty

By Agence France-Presse
Saturday, February 18, 2012 9:25 EDT
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he nephew of the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks does not deserve the death penalty, his attorneys argue in court documents filed on Friday.

Pakistani Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, 34, is accused of helping to plot the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States.

He is imprisoned at the US military prison at Guantanamo, Cuba, where he is approaching a trial before a military court.

However, James Connell, one of his attorneys, told AFP that Aziz Ali played a “relatively minor role in the conspiracy” that “would not justify the death penalty under the US standards.”

Aziz Ali, also known as Amar Al-Baluchi, is the nephew of alleged September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a cousin of Ramzi Yousef, who set a bomb that detonated in the basement of the World Trade Center in 1993.

“There are strict rules in the US to whom the death penalty can apply,” Connell said. “It only can apply to people who were either masterminds of plots or actually carried out a killing, and our argument is Mr Al-Baluchi doesn’t fall in either of those categories so he’s not eligible for the death penalty, even under military law.”

Aziz Ali is accused of following his uncle’s orders to repeatedly send funds to the September 11 terrorists to help them pay for their flying lessons in the United States.

He allegedly tried to join them but his application for an entry visa into the United States was rejected in August 2001.

Five other accused September 11 conspirators await military trials. Guantanamo detainees who face possible death penalties include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, his nephew and three other prisoners.

Lawyers for Aziz Ali urged in a document they filed Friday that the military court follow the example in the case of Guantanamo detainee Majid Khan Shoukat. He avoided the death penalty when the Defense Department filed “non-capital charges” against him, which bring a maximum sentence of life in prison.

The more serious “capital charges” could bring the death penalty.

The Defense Department legal official overseeing Aziz Ali’s case has not yet decided whether charges against him will be capital or non-capital.

“Logistical co-conspirators in acts of terrorism like the Oklahoma City bombing and East Africa bombings have been sentenced to life without the possibility of release,” the court documents from Aziz Ali’s attorneys said.

No date has been set for Aziz Ali’s military trial.

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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