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Terror case call for Schily to testify

Published on 09/01/2004

9 January 2004

HAMBURG – A lawyer representing Americans killed in the 11 September 2001 attacks demanded Friday that German Interior Minister Otto Schily be summoned to testify on why information was being withheld from the court.

The prosecution, assisted by lawyers for the Americans, is on the brink of defeat in efforts to convict Abdel-Ghani Mzoudi, 31, a Moroccan student living in Hamburg, as a plotter. Mzoudi has been released from custody and attends court hearings voluntarily.

The court says hearsay evidence originating from a self-confessed plotter, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, indicates Mzoudi was not in the plot.

Attorney Klaus Schulz told the court the only way to find out more about bin al-Shibh’s statement to US interrogators was to call in Germany’s top security official, Schily, who oversees the federal police.

Under questioning, Schily would surely reveal more information about the US interrogation.

Presiding judge Klaus Ruehle expressed annoyance at the application, issued when the court was expecting Schulz to give a speech summing up his view of the evidence before the verdict.

“Mr Schulz, we want to finish this case up,” Ruehle said. “You know that the government estimates it would be deleterious to the good of this country to relay any further information about bin al-Shibh. There is no sign that this attitude has changed.”

Ruehle and other judges retired to consider the application. Under German procedure, only the bench can summon a witness to court.

The German government says the bin al-Shibh notes are classified as secret because that was the proviso under which the United States passed them over to the German authorities. German law requires police to furnish all evidence, pro and con, to the courts.

As a compromise, federal police drafted a vague summary of the content which did not identify bin al-Shibh by name, but Ruehle said 11 December it was obvious that bin al-Shibh was the source.

The judges said the statement undermined the state’s case. Prosecution lawyers have argued that bin al-Shibh lied to protect an old friend, but judges have paid little attention to that argument.

Schily reportedly met with US Attorney-General John Ashcroft in Washington to vainly seek US consent for publication of the notes.

Subject: German news