US NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO BAY, May 5 (AFP) The self-confessed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks and four co-accused appeared in a Guantanamo Bay court Saturday to be arraigned, all facing the death penalty if convicted.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants -- being seen in public for the first time in three years -- were to be formally charged with planning and executing the September 11, 2001, attacks that killed 2,976 people in New York, Washington and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
"Prosecution is ready to proceed in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed," chief prosecutor Brigadier General Mark Martins told the military tribunal.
The men, dressed in white jumpsuits and some wearing a white head covering, sat some distance from each other. None of them was handcuffed, while Mohammed sported a long, flowing beard.
One of the last steps before the so-called "trial of the century" takes place, the arraignment marks the second time the United States has tried to prosecute the 9/11 suspects.
It comes more than a decade after the most lethal attacks on US soil in modern history, and about one year after President Barack Obama ordered the US Navy SEALs raid that killed the man behind it all -- Osama bin Laden.