US seeks October start for Moussaoui 9/11 trial

23rd March 2005, Comments 0 comments

WASHINGTON, March 22 (AFP) - The US government asked a judge on Tuesday to put Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person facing US charges for the September 11 attacks, on trial on October 31.

WASHINGTON, March 22 (AFP) - The US government asked a judge on Tuesday to put Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person facing US charges for the September 11 attacks, on trial on October 31.

The US Justice Department asked judge Leonie Brinkema, who is in charge of the federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia, outside Washington, to begin jury selection October 3 and to begin the trial itself by the end of the month.

The trial could be over by the year-end holidays, the government said. "If the jury convicts the defendant of a death-eligible offence, the government suggests that the penalty phase could begin on January 4, 2006," the motion said.

Moussaoui has confessed loyalty to Al-Qaeda, but claims he was not part of the 2001 plot to destroy the World Trade Centre twin towers and the Pentagon, which killed some 3,000 people.

The Frenchman said that although he took flying lessons as did some of the 19 men who flew hijacked airliners into the buildings, he was meant to participate in other plots, and Al-Qaeda members in US custody could testify on his behalf.

The US Supreme Court on Monday turned down Moussaoui's request for access to Al-Qaeda members in US custody.

Moussaoui argues that he should not be eligible for the death penalty if he is not allowed to question Al-Qaeda detainees.

According to the US Justice Department, letting Moussaoui and his lawyers question Al-Qaeda detainees could threaten US security.

The 36-year-old Moussaoui was arrested in Minnesota on an immigration violation shortly before the attacks in 2001.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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