Man acquitted of 9-11 to take stand at trial

14th June 2005, Comments 0 comments

14 June 2005, HAMBURG - A Moroccan who was cleared last week of plotting the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States was set to enter the witness stand on Wednesday at the Hamburg trial of fellow-accused Mounir al-Motassadeq, the judge said.

14 June 2005

HAMBURG - A Moroccan who was cleared last week of plotting the 11 September 2001 attacks on the United States was set to enter the witness stand on Wednesday at the Hamburg trial of fellow-accused Mounir al-Motassadeq, the judge said.

Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi "will appear here and say whether he will exercise his right to refuse testimony" on the grounds that he might incriminate himself, presiding judge Ernst-Rainer Schudt said at the Motassadeq trial on Tuesday, quoting Mzoudi's legal adviser Gul Pinar.

It was unclear if Mzoudi, an associate of Motassadeq, would offer any substantive evidence. Pinar told the court earlier he would remain silent, but the Motassadeq legal team said it had been told he was willing to testify comprehensively.

Mzoudi's appearance could potentially yield the first close-up descriptions of the secretive plotters in the two years before the suicide attacks. So far the Hamburg trials have mainly heard from landlords and fellow students who only knew the plotters slightly.

Germany's high court rejected last week a prosecution bid to re- try Mzoudi, 32, on terrorism charges. Mzoudi, who remained mostly silent at his own trial, offered to hold a news conference on Monday, then called it off.

The Hamburg court, which is expected to reach a verdict on Motassadeq 19 August, said it had decided to admit evidence obtained from three al-Qaeda captives despite the possibility that the United States had tortured them.

US authorities sent notes of the interrogation of alleged Hamburg plotter Ramzi bin al-Shibh and two other men to Germany.

"The court will take account of possible torture in its assessment of the evidence," said Schudt.

Bin al-Shibh allegedly stated that Motassadeq was not a member of the Hamburg terrorist cell headed by suicide pilot Mohammed Atta.

"The statements are 90 percent in favour of the accused," Ladislav Anisic, a Motassadeq lawyer, told the court. Prosecutors said the US documents had to be interpreted with "utmost caution".

German officials meanwhile warned Mzoudi, who faces deportation to Morocco, not to demand money for interviews or a press conference. Hamburg customs officials said on Tuesday this would breach European Union trade laws.

Mzoudi had offered to speak to reporters if they paid EUR 50 to attend on Monday. German media responded with a boycott and the news conference was called off. His lawyer said the money was to pay for his flight home.

The prosecutors alleged that both Mzoudi and Motassadeq were part of an eight-man terrorist cell in Hamburg. Motassadeq was sentenced to 15 years in jail for membership of a terrorist group and being an accessory to murder, but won an appeal. He is free on bail.

DPA

Subject: German news

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