NY mayor opposes Guantanamo trial in city

NEW YORK- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke out Wednesday against trying the alleged mastermind of 9/11 in the city, suggesting that the highly sensitive case could instead proceed on a military base.
Bloomberg, who had earlier welcomed the White House's idea of trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York, said the trial would be too costly and disruptive in the city of more than eight million people.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
"It’s going to cost an awful lot of money and disturb an awful lot of people," Bloomberg told a news conference. "Can we provide security? Yes. Could you provide security elsewhere? Yeah, and I mean the suggestion of a military base is probably a reasonably good one."
The mayor said a military base would make security easier and that an out-of-town location would be less disruptive, although he pointed out there might be difficulties for a jury required to make the daily commute.
Sheikh Mohammed and four co-defendants are currently incarcerated in the controversial Guantanamo Bay US military facility in Cuba, which Obama says he will close down.
The initial announcement that Sheikh Mohammed and the others would be tried in southern Manhattan, just blocks from the site of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was greeted by Bloomberg.
"It is fitting that 9/11 suspects face justice near the World Trade Center site where so many New Yorkers were murdered," he said.
However the plan has seen growing opposition from groups criticizing the cost and in some cases the principle of providing civilian trials for the alleged 9/11 plotters.
"It is up to the federal government what kind of trial they’re going to have, whether it’s a military or a civilian trial," Bloomberg said Wednesday.
If it does go ahead, "it would be great if we didn't have to do it," the mayor said. "I'd be very happy with that."
In January, Bloomberg said that security for the trial would cost more than 200 million dollars a year.
President Barack Obama and his attorney general, Eric Holder, have made bringing Sheikh Mohammed to a civilian trial a centerpiece of a broader plan to end what they see as serious abuses of law under the previous administration of George W. Bush.
Prosecutors say they will seek the death penalty for Sheikh Mohammed.

Wednesday, January 27th 2010

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