A military judge at Guantánamo Bay on Monday scheduled a Jan. 15 plea hearing for two Malaysian prisoners who are accused of committing war crimes as accessories to deadly terrorist attacks in Indonesia two decades ago.
Lt. Col. Wesley A. Braun, the judge, said the date was part of an “aggressive” timeline in the case. If he accepts the pleas, a military jury would be assembled the next week to hear evidence and issue a sentence.
Monday’s hearing was the first open court discussion surrounding the plea deals by Mohammed Farik Bin Amin, 48, and Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, 46. They have been in U.S. custody since 2003, starting with three years in C.I.A. prisons, and were charged in August 2021 with having served as money couriers and providing other support to the Southeast Asian extremist group Jemaah Islamiyah.
Few details of the agreement have been made public, including whether the men admitted to roles in both the 2002 bombings of nightclubs in Bali, Indonesia, that killed 202 people and a bombing at a Marriott hotel in Jakarta that killed 11 people the next year.
Why It Matters: Pleas can resolve cases faster.
Military commissions cases have encountered lengthy and complex challenges because the C.I.A. tortured the prisoners before transferring them to military custody, and because of the heavy presence of classified information.
Plea deals permit the sides to agree on what evidence may be used, and which witnesses can be called to avoid judicial challenges.
Talks are underway to return the men to Malaysia, where they would participate in a rehabilitation program. If successful, the transfer would contribute to a Biden administration ambition to close the detention operation at Guantánamo Bay.
Background: A former Trump appointee negotiated the pleas.
Prosecutors, defense lawyers and a war court overseer, Jeffrey D. Wood, had been secretly discussing pleas in the case for months.
They reached the agreements before Mr. Wood left the job on Oct. 6. He was appointed to the role, called the convening authority for military commissions, during the Trump administration.
What’s Next: Behind-the-scenes preparations.
Lawyers now need to prepare evidence, witnesses and any statements by the prisoners and victims of the attacks, within the limits contained in the secret pretrial agreements.
The lead prosecutor, Col. George C. Kraehe, said in court on Monday that his side had given the judge more than 1,500 pages of classified documents to review. Prosecutors were preparing another 550 to 750 pages for possible use at a sentencing hearing, he said.
Court staff members would arrange for U.S. military officers to be brought to Guantánamo to serve on a jury that would hear evidence and decide a sentence within limits described in the secret plea.