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NYPD: Governors Island not suitable for terror trial

The NYPD has quietly shot down a suggestion to shift the upcoming Sept. 11 terror trial from lower Manhattan to Governors Island, deeming it impractical for security reasons, said a high-ranked law enforcement official.

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told The Associated Press Thursday that the NYPD decided to assess whether the 172-acre East River island could be used for the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four others after the idea was raised at a community board meeting in Manhattan on Wednesday.

But the department assessment revealed that a new jail facility would have to be built to house Mohammed and his co-defendants. Historians said the island, which has been owned since 2003 by New York State and New York City, was used as a jail for Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. But the lockup is antiquated and useless, said the official who didn't want to be named.

Without a new jail, Mohammed and the other defendants would have to be ferried each day to the island for trial, a situation that raises additional security issues, according to the official. No trial date has been set.

"Kelly views it (Governors Island) as impractical," said the official.

Julie Menin, chairwoman of Community Board One, said if Governors Island was unacceptable, then places like Randalls Island should be considered.

The board had voiced concern about the trial being at the Pearl Street courthouse. The NYPD plans to have two security zones surrounding the courthouse during the trial. A "hard" zone immediately adjacent to the courthouse would bar vehicles from a three-block area of Worth Street on days the trial was in session. A heavy police presence with more street closings would also be in the hard zone.

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