15 December 2003
HAMBURG – A panel of Hamburg state court judges ruled Monday to keep convicted 11 September conspirator Mounir El Motassadeq under detention, rejecting a petition seeking his release.
The three-judge panel reached its decision after a few hours of deliberations. Further details were not immediately available.
Motassadeq was sentenced in early 2003 to a 15-year prison term after the Hamburg court found him guilty as an accessory to the September 11 attacks.
Lawyers for the Moroccan petitioned the court for his release after last week’s dramatic turn of developments in the second September 11 conspiracy trial, when the Hamburg court agreed to release defendant Abdel Ghani Mzoudi from trial custody.
That decision was based on controversial evidence about who was actually involved in the 11 September suicide plane attack plot.
Lawyers for the Moroccan petitioned the court for his release after last week’s dramatic turn of developments in the second 11 September conspiracy trial, when the Hamburg court agreed to release defendant Abdel Ghani Mzoudi from trial custody.
Mzoudi remains on trial, charged as an accessory in more than 3,000 counts of murder and with belonging to a terrorist grouping – the same charges as those against Motassadeq – amid controversy over the evidence cited in the court agreeing to his release from custody.
The evidence cited by the court was a summary of an interrogation of a top Al Qaeda suspect Ramzi bin al-Shibh, now in US detention, in which he is said to have contended that only he and three of the suicide pilots were involved in the planning for the attacks.
In its latest issue, the weekly magazine Der Spiegel said that Germany’s Federal Crime Agency BKA had submitted a list of questions to the Americans to pose to al-Shibh in the interrogation in January 2003. But the BKA had not expected the substance of the interrogation to be provided to the Hamburg court.
Although bin al-Shibh was not cited by name by the Hamburg judge, he was seen as the source of the contention that only he himself as well as three of the pilots of the 11 September planes, Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, had organized the attacks.
Der Spiegel cited security experts as having serious doubts about bin al-Shibh’s claim about who was privy to the 11 September plot. They believe bin al-Shibh was spreading “disinformation” in order to protect others involved in the plot.
Mzoudi in the meantime has applied for political asylum in Germany, his lawyer Gul Pinar disclosed at the weekend. She said her client feared his possible capture by the Americans if he were to be sent back to Morocco after his trial in Hamburg.
Subject: German news