US judge may drop Moussaoui trial

Faced with a government rebuff, a US federal judge on Thursday solicited suggestions on whether to dismiss the case against alleged September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

    Moussaoui is facing trial for his alleged role in September 11 attacks

    District Judge Leonie Brinkema asked prosecutors, defense lawyers and Moussaoui to give their views, after the US government refused to produce a suspected al Qaeda captive for questioning.

    On Monday, the US government said national security would be damaged by Brinkema’s order, allowing Moussaoui to question Ramzi bin al-Shaibah, an alleged al Qaeda  captive suspected of coordinating the September 11 attacks in the US.

    A Frenchman of Moroccan descent who was being held on immigration charges when the attacks occurred, Moussaoui faces death penalty if convicted.

    Moussaoui is the only person charged in connection with the September 11 attacks.

    Since the government has said it would not comply with her order, the judge has the option of dismissing the case or imposing other sanctions.

    Brinkema ordered prosecutors and defense attorneys to file court papers with their suggestions by July 28.

    Moussaoui may argue for either dismissing the case or for striking off the death penalty.

    In January, Brinkema ruled that Moussaoui could question bin al-Shaibah via videoconference.

    The government says Moussaoui, who has admitted to being a member of al Qaeda, has no right to question bin al-Shaibah, who was captured last year in Pakistan and is being interrogated by the US.

    But Moussaoui says he has a constitutional right to question anyone who can help prove his innocence. 

    He insists bin al-Shaibah can prove he was not involved in the September 11 attacks.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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