Retrial of 9/11 suspecthinges on US evidence

6th August 2004, Comments 0 comments

6 August 2004 , HAMBURG - Germany's top federal prosecutor is confident he will win a new conviction at the retrial in Hamburg next week of the only suspect to have been tried and convicted in connection with the 11 September terrorist attacks. "We have a strong case and are certain that we will be able to persuade the court of the defendant's guilt," Chief Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said ahead of the scheduled 10 August opening of proceedings against Mounir El Motassadeq, an admitted friend of the Hambu

6 August 2004  

HAMBURG - Germany's top federal prosecutor is confident he will win a new conviction at the retrial in Hamburg next week of the only suspect to have been tried and convicted in connection with the 11 September terrorist attacks.

"We have a strong case and are certain that we will be able to persuade the court of the defendant's guilt," Chief Federal Prosecutor Kay Nehm said ahead of the scheduled 10 August opening of proceedings against Mounir El Motassadeq, an admitted friend of the Hamburg terrorists who commandeered airliners on that fateful September morning.

But behind the scenes Nehm has issued a desperate appeal for the US State Department to release evidence that Germany's high court, which ordered the retrial, has stated is crucial for conviction.

Nehm has acknowledged travelling to the United States in April seeking release of interrogation records of detained terror suspect Ramzi Binalshibh.

"I met with a great deal of understanding," Nehm said. "But they gave me to understand that there were restrictions which went way beyond the authority of the people I was talking to."

He added that a 17-page document with questions German officials want put to Binalshibh had been sent to the United States this month.

Nehm said that, even without the State Department records, he was confident of winning a conviction in the upcoming retrial of Mounir Motassadeq.

But without Binalshibh's interrogation records, Motassadeq's defence attorney Josef Graessle- Muenscher says he will file a request with the court for dropping all charges against his client.

Even with the records, Graessle-Muenscher says the prosecution's case is week.

"Everyone knows any and all information was obtained by torture," he told Deutsche Presse-Agentur, dpa. "We cannot believe that such evidence would stand up in a German court of law."

Motassadeq, 30, was convicted in early 2003 by Hamburg State Court for having aided the 11 September attacks and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He is so far the only terror suspect to have been convicted in connection with the terror attacks.

But last March, Germany's Federal Supreme Court in Karlsruhe quashed the conviction on a technicality, saying essential evidence had been withheld by the State Department. A new trial was ordered.

Meanwhile, the same Hamburg court that had convicted Motassadeq acquitted a friend and co-suspect of his last February, Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, who had been tried on identical charges. The court cited the Supreme Court ruling in handing down the acquittal.

Mzoudi's acquittal is now being appealed by the Federal Prosecutor's Office.

Both men were student friends of the suicide pilots in Hamburg, and evidence presented in court showed that they had been at Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, but their lawyers argued that this did not prove that they knew about the 11 September plot.

DPA

Subject: German news
 

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