Moussaoui to confess role in 9/11 attacks

19th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, April 19 (AFP) - Frenchman Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person facing US charges for the September 11, 2001 attacks, intends to admit he played a role in the plane-hijacking attacks and is willing to accept the death penalty for it, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

WASHINGTON, April 19 (AFP) - Frenchman Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person facing US charges for the September 11, 2001 attacks, intends to admit he played a role in the plane-hijacking attacks and is willing to accept the death penalty for it, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

Moussaoui, 36, could enter a guilty plea as early as this week if US District Judge Leonie Brinkema finds him mentally competent to stand trial, sources familiar with the case told the daily.

Arrested in Minnesota on an immigration violation three weeks before the attacks on New York and Washington, Moussaoui has admitted being a member of Osama bin Laden's Al-Qaeda terrorist group, but up to now has claimed he was not part of the 2001 plot to destroy the World Trade Centre twin towers and the Pentagon. The attacks killed some 3,000 people.

In 2002, he tried to plead guilty but changed his mind and later that year he fired his attorneys and chose to represent himself, raising doubts over his mental competence. Judge Brinkema is expected to rule on that issue after meeting with him this week, the sources said.

The daily said Moussaoui has recently written to Brinkema and the US government to say he is willing to accept the possibility of a death sentence, which could resolve a key point of contention with the prosecution which has insisted on capital punishment in his case.

If Moussaoui accepts a guilty plea, the sources said, Birkema would probably set a date for a trial. The US government last month asked the judge to set a trial date for October 31. The trial would be held in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington.

Moussaoui's trial has been repeatedly delayed due to his request to be allowed to question Al-Qaeda detainees, which the US Justice Department refuses to do claiming it could threaten US security. The US Supreme Court last month turned down an appeal for access to Al-Qaeda members.

The Frenchman has maintained up to now that although he took flying lessons as did some of 9/11 hijackers, he was meant to participate in other plots, and Al-Qaeda members in US custody could testify on his behalf.

Nineteen men hijacked four jets and crashed two of them into the twin World Trade Centre towers and a third into the Pentagon. The fourth jet crashed in a field in Pennsylvania following an uprising by passengers.

Prosecutors reportedly suspect Moussaoui was to have been on the fourth plane, which some reports have said was to target the White House or another high-profile building in Washington.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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