The Guantanamo trial of five 9/11 suspects has already been postponed thanks to a tropical storm, religious observances, an Internet outage, and more—but an invasion of rats and mold isn't going to push it back any further. Pretrial hearings are set to begin today for alleged mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after a judge nixed postponement request over the infestation in defense lawyers' offices. They'll be the first hearings since the May arraignment of KSM and four other prisoners.
Mold, rat droppings, and the appearance of a dead rat forced lawyers' offices to close late last month. The Guantanamo base hospital has ruled the area safe, but lawyers disagree. "My eyes burn. I lose breath," says one. "All of us suffer some sort of symptoms." Though the judge rejected the postponement request, he did call for a cleanup, Reuters notes. Says a prosecutor: "Justice is not determined by the plushness of the surroundings." In this week's hearings, defense lawyers will call for an end to secrecy over defendants' earlier treatment in CIA prisons, and media groups will seek greater access to the trial. (Read more Guantanamo Bay stories.)