Chief Guantánamo Prosecutor Retiring Before Sept. 11 Trial Begins



WASHINGTON — The Military normal who has led conflict crimes prosecutions at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, for a decade is retiring and handing off the trial of the 5 males accused of conspiring within the assaults of Sept. 11, 2001 to an as-yet unchosen successor.

Brig. Gen. Mark S. Martins of the Military served as chief prosecutor for navy commissions all through the Obama and Trump administrations.

His resolution to step down got here as a shock as a result of he had obtained an extension to serve within the submit till Jan. 1, 2023. As an alternative, he’ll retire on Sept. 30, in response to a discover despatched by Karen V. Loftus, a prosecution workers member, to households of the almost 3,000 folks killed within the Sept. 11 assaults.

Basic Martins, a Harvard Legislation College-educated West Level graduate, had for a few years served as the general public face of navy commissions. In his first years within the place, he undertook a talking marketing campaign to advertise the hybrid type of justice that the Bush administration established after the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Obama administration made some modifications to the system and determined to pursue the Sept. 11 case in opposition to Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 4 accused accomplices at Guantánamo, somewhat than in federal court docket. A death-penalty case, it has been mired in pretrial proceedings since arraignment in Might 2011 as the edges deal with questions associated to the torture of the defendants in C.I.A. prisons earlier than their 2006 transfers to Guantánamo Bay, amongst different points.

Though the case at the moment has no navy decide assigned to listen to it, Pentagon officers are making ready for its first hearings since February 2020 to happen within the first two weeks of September, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the assault.

Basic Martins submitted his retirement papers on Wednesday after repeatedly butting heads with Biden administration legal professionals over positions his workplace had taken on the relevant worldwide legislation and the Conference In opposition to Torture on the Guantánamo court docket, in response to senior authorities officers with information of the disputes. Basic Martins didn’t reply to a request for remark.

A key level of competition was a latest resolution by Basic Martins to make use of an announcement {that a} man accused of orchestrating the usS. Cole bombing in 2000 had made to the C.I.A. whereas being tortured to make a degree with the navy decide presiding in that case, which can also be a death-penalty prosecution. Protection legal professionals for the prisoner, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri of Saudi Arabia, are interesting the admissibility of that proof.

On the identical day Basic Martins selected to retire, he filed a short asking the U.S. Courtroom of Army Fee Evaluation for additional time to answer the enchantment.


“Was he requested to resign or did he stop in protest?,” stated Navy Capt. Brian L. Mizer, Mr. Nashiri’s lead navy protection lawyer. “I don’t know.”

Ms. Loftus stated Basic Martins selected to retire “in the very best pursuits of the continued instances.” Army Commissions hearings are scheduled to renew subsequent week for the primary time for the reason that starting of the pandemic, in a case accusing an Iraqi man of commanding forces that dedicated conflict crimes in Afghanistan in 2003 and 2004.

Ms. Loftus referred to as the timing “an excellent window to determine a successor” as a result of proceedings are “lastly in view once more for all of our instances following the pandemic-driven hiatus.”

Basic Martins reduce a formidable determine in court docket at 6 ft Three inches tall and a chest filled with medals on his blue Military uniform. A former Rhodes scholar, he had made assembly with and briefing the households of the victims a key a part of his duties, and had developed ties with a few of them by social alternatives at Guantánamo Bay. He had repeatedly obtained extensions on the task in his effort to see the Sept. 11 case to trial.

“My first thought is that the one continuity left is the defendants and the relations,” stated Joel Shapiro, whose spouse Sareve Dukat was killed on the World Commerce Middle and who has since labored as a information on the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York. “Nearly everybody else who has been concerned on this case has taken the chance to get on with their lives.”

“I used to be shocked that Mark is stepping down,” stated Adele Welty, whose firefighter son Timothy was killed on 9/11. “I believed he was very dedicated to seeing it by. However who can blame him? Your complete enterprise in Guantánamo is nearly comical in its ridiculous turns of occasions — decide after decide quitting, and now Basic Martins.”

The chief protection counsel, Brig. Gen. John G. Baker of the Marines, is leaving his submit on Nov. 1. The method of changing him with a brand new navy lawyer with a one-star rank — to present him parity with Basic Martins — was already underway, with a possible candidate chosen.

Protection officers stated a board was more likely to be assembled to pick out a brand new chief prosecutor, who often is the rank equal of an Military colonel somewhat than the rank of a one-star normal. Within the interim, Ms. Loftus stated, Basic Martins’s civilian deputy, Michael J. O’Sullivan, will serving as performing chief protection counsel.


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