Court rules against 9/11 suspect

A US court has declined to consider crucial witness access and death penalty issues raised by al-Qaida member Zacarias Moussaoui, making it more likely that the case can proceed to trial.

Moussaoui was in custody prior to the September 11 attacks
Moussaoui was in custody prior to the September 11 attacks

The full 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said none of the judges had requested a rehearing of the issues already decided by a three-judge panel.


Unless there are further appeals, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema in Alexandria, Virginia, can now resolve the dispute over Moussaoui’s access to three al-Qaida prisoners and set a trial date.


Moussaoui’s lawyers have been arguing – unsuccessfully – for direct access to the high-ranking captives, who have told interrogators that Moussaoui had no role in the September 11 attacks.


Death penalty

The court-appointed defence team has also been trying – again without success – to have the appellate court bar the government from seeking the death penalty if Moussaoui, a French citizen, is convicted.


Musawi is charged with taking
part in the 9/11 conspiracy

An acknowledged member of al-Qaida, he has said in court papers he was to be part of a later operation.


In its previous ruling, the appellate panel ordered the trial judge to work with lawyers to give Moussaoui access to the witnesses’ statements – and to permit defence lawyers to submit additional questions.


The panel also allowed the government to seek the death penalty.


Moussaoui, who was arrested a month prior to the attacks when he aroused suspicions at a flight school, was indicted in December 2001.

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