Fast-track trial for 9/11 conspirator

7th January 2007, Comments 0 comments

8 January 2007, Hamburg (dpa) - A fast-track trial for Mounir al-Motassadeq, 32, the Moroccan student convicted in 2005 of being part of the 9/11 hijackers' cell in Hamburg, Germany, began with a fresh denial from the Islamist that he had known in advance of the attacks. It was the fifth time in court for Motassadeq, after two trials and two appeals, but this time judges can only decide the sentence, which currently stands at 7 years' jail but could be increased to 15. Last year appeal judges ruled that hi

8 January 2007

Hamburg (dpa) - A fast-track trial for Mounir al-Motassadeq, 32, the Moroccan student convicted in 2005 of being part of the 9/11 hijackers' cell in Hamburg, Germany, began with a fresh denial from the Islamist that he had known in advance of the attacks.

It was the fifth time in court for Motassadeq, after two trials and two appeals, but this time judges can only decide the sentence, which currently stands at 7 years' jail but could be increased to 15.

Last year appeal judges ruled that his conviction for terrorism was final and added a further conviction: accessory to 246 murders.

Presiding judge Carsten Beckmann said the sentence might be handed down on Monday, although the court has scheduled five days of hearings on dates stretching into February. Only three judges were assigned to the case, not five as in past terrorism trials.

Motassadeq, who testified at his first trial about his training in a Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and his friendship with the hijackers, but remained silent at his second trial, hotly declared his innocence Friday.

"I can swear before God that I did not know what they wanted to do," he said, adding that he had not even known that attack leader Mohammed Atta and two other student pilots had been in the United States.

Turning to prosecutors, the Moroccan, who has grown his black beard longer while in a remand jail, said, "You don't want to know the truth."

His lawyers demanded a halt to the hearings on technical legal grounds, alleging the panel of three state superior court judges had been improperly selected by the city judicial committee and that an appeal to Germany's constitutional court might stay any sentence.

Motassadeq, who was married, did not join the 19 hijackers who crashed jets into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field. The previous judges say he knew of the Islamists' plot, but possibly not that thousands would be killed.

Presiding judge Carsten Beckmann said the trial would proceed while the defence challenges were considered separately.

DPA

Subject: German news

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