A notice sent to families of some of those killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks said that the suspected architect of the crimes and his fellow defendants may never face the death penalty under plea agreements under consideration, Scripps News reports. The prosecution of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others held at the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been troubled by repeated delays and legal disputes, especially over the legal ramifications of the interrogation under torture that the men initially underwent while in CIA custody. “The Office of the Chief Prosecutor has been negotiating and is considering entering into pre-trial agreements,” or PTAs, the letter said. It told the families that while no plea agreement “has been finalized, and may never be finalized, it is possible that a PTA in this case would remove the possibility of the death penalty."
Some relatives of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the terror attacks expressed outrage over the prospect of ending the case short of a verdict. The military prosecutors pledged to take their views into consideration and present them to the military authorities who would make the final decision on accepting any plea agreement. The Aug. 1 letter was received by at least some family members only this week. It asks them to respond by Monday to the FBI's victim services division with any comments or questions about the possibility of such a plea agreement. It was Mohammed who presented the idea of such an attack on the U.S. to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden and who received authorization from bin Laden to craft the plan. The four other defendants are alleged to have supported the hijackers in various ways.