Terror trial rejects al-Jazeera witness

6th January 2004, Comments 0 comments

6 January 2004 , HAMBURG - German prosecutors trying to obtain another conviction in connection with the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States have been told they cannot call a correspondent for al-Jazeera television as a witness. It was a further setback for the prosecution after the court in Hamburg had already released the accused, Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, from custody for the remainder of the trial. The prosecution had also failed last month in a bid to persuade the court to call as a witness

6 January 2004

HAMBURG - German prosecutors trying to obtain another conviction in connection with the 11 September terrorist attacks in the United States have been told they cannot call a correspondent for al-Jazeera television as a witness.

It was a further setback for the prosecution after the court in Hamburg had already released the accused, Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, from custody for the remainder of the trial.

The prosecution had also failed last month in a bid to persuade the court to call as a witness one of the alleged 11 September plotters, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who is being held by the United States.

Prosecutor Walter Hemberger had wanted to call a correspondent of al-Jazeera, the Arab television channel, who claimed in a book that Mzoudi must have known of the terrorist plans by his friends bin al- Shibh and 11 September terror pilot Mohammed Atta.

According to the book, both bin al-Shibh and Atta had known of the plans to carry out the 2001 attacks before they had travelled to an al-Qaeda terrorist camp in Afghanistan at the end of 1999.

The prosecution believed this would contradict information received by the court, believed to be from bin al-Shibh, which maintains the 11 September plans were hatched in Afghanistan, not in Hamburg, and that Mzoudi was unaware of the plot.

Dismissing the application, presiding judge Klaus Ruehle said Mzoudi was mentioned just once in the 245-page book which consisted of "speculation to increase the suspense" and in which the author "presents conjecture as fact".

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

Mzoudi, a 31-year-old Moroccan, is accused of being an accessory to more than 3,000 murders and of being a member of a terrorist organization.

Another Moroccan, Mounir al-Motassadeq, was jailed for 15 years in February on identical charges and the same evidence.

Evidence has now been completed in the case which will continue Thursday with submissions from the prosecution and co-plaintiffs. Defence submissions will be heard the following week with a verdict expected in the last week of January.

 

 

DPA
Subject: German news

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