GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (WJHG/WECP) - Monday began the court proceedings for the man who proclaimed he was responsible for September 11th "from a to z." Panama City resident Don Arias, who lost his brother in the attacks, is in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to watch the hearings for Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
NewsChannel 7/Local 18's Jennifer Holton is in Cuba with Arias, covering the hearings on the Navy base and will bring us updates all week. During her first few days in Guantanamo Bay, she was given two tours, one of the areas in which the Joint Task Force Operates, and also of the expeditionary legal complex, a set of buildings and trailers that host the legal proceedings here known as military commissions. Here's her report on Monday.
A short windshield tour of Guantanamo Bay will show you some of the aging detention facilities where alleged terror suspects once were held. Right now, 41 detainees remain imprisoned at Gitmo, down from 779 when the prison opened in 2002.
The Joint Task Force is in charge of the care and custody of the detainees. The honor-bound sign is a part of the mission statement here, demonstrating the honor with which the Joint Task Force serves the nation. This sign is in front of Camp Delta, an older detention facility that previously held detainees but no longer does. We were also shown camps five and six, but camp seven, where Khalid Sheik Mohammed is reportedly detained, is a secret. No one knows where it is.
Mohammed, along with the four other alleged co-conspirators of 9/11, were brought to the legal expeditionary complex Monday morning, hours before their pre-trial hearings. But before they make it to the courtroom, they're taken inside a shed, where a system scans their body for contraband. From there, detainees are taken to holding cells, small structures outfitted with a toilet, a T.V. to watch the proceedings, and an arrow that points to Mecca for their daily prayer.
Once it's time to head to court, the detainees are led down a walkway to the courtroom, protected by sniper netting. Their hands are shackled, and restraint chairs are in place if a detainee becomes unruly.
The five defendants were brought in Monday morning flanked by two military police officers.
The buildings in the Expeditionary Legal Complex were completed in 2012 at the cost of $12 million.
Inside the courtroom Monday, Jennifer tells us she was only allowed pen and paper, no electronics due for operational security reasons.
Jennifer will be filing more reports all week long, as she continues our WJHG/WECP exclusive coverage at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Tune in for live coverage on NewsChannel 7 at 5 and 6, and Local 18 at 5:30.