German 9/11 trial verdict postponed

21st January 2004, Comments 0 comments

21 January 2004, HAMBURG - The verdict in the trial of a Moroccan man charged with being an accomplice to the 11 September attacks was postponed at the last minute Wednesday after the prosecution requested another witness. The prosecution asked to call an Iranian secret agent, to help shore up its case, chief defence attorney Gul Pinar told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa. The witness allegedly warned US authorities ahead of the 9/11 attacks, Pinar said. In addition, he is expected to tell the court that al Qa

21 January 2004

HAMBURG - The verdict in the trial of a Moroccan man charged with being an accomplice to the 11 September attacks was postponed at the last minute Wednesday after the prosecution requested another witness.

The prosecution asked to call an Iranian secret agent, to help shore up its case, chief defence attorney Gul Pinar told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

The witness allegedly warned US authorities ahead of the 9/11 attacks, Pinar said. In addition, he is expected to tell the court that al Qaeda operatives have threatened to kill the Hamburg trial defendant for having "collaborated" with German investigators.

The move comes amid mounting signs that defendant Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi is likely to be acquitted by the court in Hamburg. The verdict had been scheduled for Thursday.

Prosecutors have suffered a series of setbacks in the trial, including appeals against Mzoudi's release and various requests to subpoena witnesses.

The cornerstone of the prosecution case is that 11 September was conceived and led by a cell of eight students from Hamburg who obtained financial and logistical assistance from al-Qaeda.

However, lawyers for Mzoudi insisted in their final arguments last week that the attack was planned by al-Qaeda, not by the Hamburg cell and the defendant was unaware of what was going on as he pursued his electrical engineering studies in the northern port city.

"Mzoudi belonged to the students around (hijack pilot Mohammed) Atta and did indeed spend time in Afghanistan - but nothing more than that," said Pinar.

The prosecution has demanded Mzoudi be convicted and jailed for 15 years in connection with the 3,000 deaths at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania in the autumn of 2001.

The sentence would be the same as that passed on another Moroccan, Mounir al-Motassadeq, who was jailed in February in Hamburg on identical charges of being an accessory to murder and of being a member of a terrorist organization.

However, in a dramatic turn of events at the height of the current trial, Mzoudi was released from custody by the court in Hamburg on the basis of new evidence, despite the chief prosecutor's insistence that he was convinced of Mzoudi's guilt.

The Hamburg court last month released Mzoudi from custody after receiving new information suggesting he did not belong to the Hamburg al-Qaeda terrorist cell which carried out the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Germany's Federal Supreme Court earlier turned down an appeal by al-Motassadeq to be released from custody in view of the ruling to free Mzoudi for the remainder of his trial.

But if Mzoudi is acquitted, German security officials still regard Mzoudi as having been involved in the terrorist scene in view of his links with the Hamburg cell of terror pilots and for attending an al- Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan in 2000.

They intend to deport Mzoudi to his native Morocco if he is acquitted, according to a report in Der Spiegel news magazine.

Mzoudi, 31, is charged with 3,000 counts as an accessory to murder in the September 11, 2001 plane attacks and for belonging to a terrorist grouping. The prosecution is seeking the maximum 15-year prison term.

 

DPA

Subject: German news

 

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