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Obama admits deadline for closing Guantanamo will be missed


Washington : US President Barack Obama Wednesday acknowledged that the January deadline for closing the Guantanamo Bay prison facility will be missed.

In numerous interviews with US broadcasters while travelling through Asia, Obama also defended the decision to try the five alleged plotters of the Sep 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in federal court.

Days after taking office, Obama set a Jan 22 deadline for shutting the controversial detention centre, but his administration has struggled with how to conduct the trials of those who can be prosecuted, and finding countries willing to take detainees set for release. There are still about 215 prisoners at Guantanamo.

“We had a specific deadline that was missed,” Obama told CNN.

The Obama administration has come under fire from Republican critics over last week’s announcement that the self-professed mastermind of the Sep 11 attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, and four co-defendants will be tried in New York rather than in the military tribunals.

Asked about critics who find it offensive that Mohammed will be granted the same rights as American citizens, Obama predicted the prosecution against Mohammed will be successful.

“I don’t think it will be offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him,” Obama said on NBC.

Obama said he did not order his top prosecutor, Attorney General Eric Holder, to conduct the trial in a federal court. He said he told Holder to make a decision based on the evidence and rule of law. Holder announced his decision Friday.