Convicted 9/11 terrorist Motassadeq to appeal
23 August 2005, HAMBURG - Lawyers for the only man ever convicted in connection with the September 11 attacks Tuesday said they have filed an appeal of last week's re-trial guilty verdict.
23 August 2005
HAMBURG - Lawyers for the only man ever convicted in connection with the September 11 attacks Tuesday said they have filed an appeal of last week's re-trial guilty verdict.
Defence lawyers for Moroccan-born Mounir al-Motassadeq told Deutsche Presse-Agentur they had filed an appeal because the verdict had been based on purely circumstantial evidence linking the Moroccan-born defendant to the 9/11 attacks.
In a virtual repeat of its 2003 verdict, Hamburg State Superior court last Friday found Motassadeq guilty of membership in a terrorist organisation.
The court sentenced him to seven years in prison. However, the court exonerated him of charges of actual direct involvement in the September 11 attacks.
Even with that partial exoneration, German federal prosecutors hailed the decision a significant step toward combating terrorism.
During months of protracted wrangling, prosecutors and defence attorneys had squared off over the issue of whether Motassadeq had been an integral part of the al-Qaeda terrorist cell that carried out the attacks by hijacking planes and flying them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
Prosecutors told the court how Motassadeq made payments while plotters were absent in al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.
Defence lawyers argued that Motassadeq was not involved in the Hamburg terrorist cell headed by Mohammed Atta. Atta and two other students from Hamburg piloted hijacked planes on September 11, 2001.
The prosecution's case was severely hampered when the U.S. State Department declined to hand over key intelligence documents that the German lawyers considered incontrovertible proof of Motassadeq's involvement.
The U.S. decision was one of several serious setbacks for German prosecutors, who had difficulty finding incriminating evidence against Motassadeq, now being tried a second time after his first conviction for terrorism was overturned on appeal.
He was accused of foreknowledge and being an accessory to the September 11 attacks that killed more than 3,000 people in New York and Washington.
Only a German version of U.S. notes on the interrogation of two 9/11 organizers, Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, were provided to the court. Both men asserted that Motassadeq was not aware of the plot by his Hamburg student friends.
Both al-Qaeda organizers are in U.S. custody, probably outside the United States. The court has questioned the reliability of their evidence, noting that they may have been tortured.
The prosecution contended that eight technical training school students in Hamburg had by spring 1999 devised the idea of hijacking airliners and using them as suicide bombers, then approached Osama bin Laden for assistance.
Motassadeq sought to portray himself as ignorant of Atta's mission despite his close friendship with Atta and their attending prayer meetings together at a mosque noted for radical preaching.
In 2003, Motassadeq was convicted by the Hamburg court on charges of aiding and abetting the murders of the more than 3,000 September 11 victims and being a member of a terrorist group. He was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment.
The conviction was quashed on appeal and a new trial ordered.
Subject: German news