9/11 Suspects Withdraw Plea Offers in Fight for Death

Confessions could block death penalty for suspects seeking 'martrydom'
By Ambreen Ali,  Newser User
Posted Dec 9, 2008 4:14 AM CST
Defense lawyers for the accused plotters walk during a break in yesterday's proceedings.   (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, Pool)
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(Newser) – Five  9/11 suspects yesterday withdrew offers to plead guilty when a military judge warned them that confessions could foil their plans to get the death penalty. A death order may require a military jury conviction, he said. The men want the death penalty so they can die as martyrs. "Are you saying if we plead guilty we will not be sentenced to death?" asked self-described terror mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. "We don't want to waste time."

Now the trial is likely to extend beyond the Bush presidency and cause problems for Barack Obama, reports the Washington Post. The Obama team's intention to transfer the case to federal court could be held up if the pleas eventually come through. On the other hand, if a military court sentences the men to death, the president-elect may have to oversee executions decided in a controversial military tribunal with evidence partially obtained through waterboarding.