Defence claims US documents clear Motassadeq

24th May 2005, Comments 0 comments

24 May 2005, HAMBURG - Lawyers clashed on Tuesday at the Hamburg trial of Mounir al-Motassadeq, the only man ever convicted of a role in the 11 September 2001 attacks, over new transcripts of the interrogation of al-Qaeda captives.

24 May 2005

HAMBURG - Lawyers clashed on Tuesday at the Hamburg trial of Mounir al-Motassadeq, the only man ever convicted of a role in the 11 September 2001 attacks, over new transcripts of the interrogation of al-Qaeda captives.

While Motassadeq's defence lawyer said the summary cleared his client, prosecutors said a captive lied when he denied that the plot began before 2000. The date is crucial because witness evidence that seems to incriminate Motassadeq dates from earlier.

"I'm convinced that an acquittal must come about," said Udo Jacob. The basis of the prosecution had collapsed, the defence attorney added. Motassadeq is being re-tried after Germany's high court quashed his terrorism conviction and sentence to 15 years in prison.

The new document, which has been supplied by US authorities, contains a statement by a captured al-Qaeda operative, Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

He told investigators the Hamburg cell that led the attack comprised himself and three suicide pilots, Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, and formed "not before 2000".

"There is indeed a contradiction, only you have to wonder whether one can believe bin al-Shibh," replied prosecutor Matthias Krauss. He said there were no grounds to withdraw the prosecution case.

Krauss said a group of young Islamists did form in 1999 in Hamburg to conduct a jihad (holy war) against the west. He said the six-page summary read out to the court neither incriminated nor cleared Motassadeq.

The document was sent to Germany in mid-May after months of reminders from the Hamburg judges. Bin al-Shibh and the other person interrogated are believed to be in American hands somewhere outside the United States.

Motassadeq, a Moroccan student who worshipped regularly with three of the suicide pilots and three other prime suspects from the Hamburg cell, is accused in the Hamburg superior court of membership of a terror group and being an accessory to murder.

DPA

Subject: German news

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