Accused released inal-Qaeda trial

11th December 2003, Comments 0 comments

11 December 2003 , HAMBURG – A German court Thursday ordered the release from custody of a Moroccan accused of being part of the Hamburg terrorist cell in the 11 September 2001 attacks. It follows new evidence to the court believed to have come from a key figure in the Hamburg cell who is detained in the United States. Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, 31, who had been held on an arrest warrant since October last year, was told he was free to leave the court. Presiding judge Klaus Ruehle said there was "a serious possib

11 December 2003

HAMBURG – A German court Thursday ordered the release from custody of a Moroccan accused of being part of the Hamburg terrorist cell in the 11 September 2001 attacks.

It follows new evidence to the court believed to have come from a key figure in the Hamburg cell who is detained in the United States.

Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, 31, who had been held on an arrest warrant since October last year, was told he was free to leave the court.

Presiding judge Klaus Ruehle said there was "a serious possibility" that Mzoudi was "not involved in organizing the attacks" on September 11 despite his association with one of the suicide pilots Mohammed Atta, regarded as the terrorist cell ringleader.

However the trial, the second in Germany of a suspected 11 September al-Qaeda terrorist, continues.

Chief prosecutor Walter Hemberger said there was enough evidence to prove that Mzoudi knew about the attacks. He has filed an appeal against the Hamburg court ruling to the Federal Supreme Court.

The surprise decision to free Mzoudi from custody came after German investigators provided the court with fresh evidence indicating he was not part of the cell which was behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

According to a document received by Germany's Federal Criminal Police Department (BKA) and read by the judge, Mzoudi was not privy to the 11 September plot.

The BKA did not give the source for the document, but the judge said there was no doubt it came from former Hamburg student Ramzi bin al-Shibh who is in custody in the United States.

The new evidence maintains that only Bin al-Shibh and the pilots of the 11 September planes, Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, had organized the attacks.

U.S. authorities have refused to supply the court with the transcriptions of their questioning of Bin al-Shibh.

Ruehle said the new information had raised "doubts" on Mzoudi's involvement and he was granting a defence application for his release from custody.

Mzoudi's lawyer, Gul Pinar, was delighted with the decision.

"Not even at my wedding have I laughed as much as now," she said. "This is what we have said all along - friendship alone does not make one a suspect."

Mzoudi is accused of assisting 3,066 murders in connection with the 11 September attacks and of being a member of the Hamburg terrorist cell which provided three of the four pilots.

Mzoudi, who came to Germany in 1993, had lived and studied with members of the cell at a flat in the Hamburg district of Harburg.

Another 11 September defendant, Mounir Motassadeq, was sentenced by the same Hamburg court last February to 15 years in prison on similar charges.

As a result of the court's ruling on Mzoudi, the lawyer for Motassadeq said he would be applying for a similar release from custody. Motassadeq has already appealed against the conviction.

 

DPA
Subject: German news 

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