Bomb suspect demands Al Qaeda kingpin testify at French trial

8th January 2009, Comments 0 comments

The professed architect of September 11 is the only person with significant knowledge about this case, bomb suspect says.

Paris -- Christian Ganczarski, a German convert to Islam who is on trial in Paris over a 2002 suicide bombing of an historic Tunisian synagogue, demanded that Al Qaeda's 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed be called as a witness in the case.

Sheikh Mohammed, who is being held in the American military's Guantanamo Bay prison, is currently being tried in absentia over the 2002 bombing, which claimed the lives of 21 people including two French nationals.

But the trial, which opened Monday, is focusing on the role of 42-year-old Ganczarski, a German of Polish origin, who is accused of helping Sheikh Mohammed to plan the attack on the Tunisian island of Djerba.

Ganczarski, who claims he is innocent of the charges, questioned the judges' ruling that, as a co-accused, Sheikh Mohammed cannot also be a witness.

"Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is the one person who knows things about this case, but he is not being heard," he said. "The victims and myself have a right to hear the truth." "I do not want him to come here, or for there to be a video-conference. I want him to make a written statement," Ganczarski added. "This important witness must be able to testify one way or another."

The Tunisian suicide bomber Nizar Nawar is alleged to have contacted both the Kuwaiti-born Sheikh Mohammed and Ganczarski shortly before the bombing on April 11, 2002, for which Al Qaeda claimed responsibility.

Nawar's brother, Tunisian national Walid Nawar, is also standing trial.

French prosecutors have charged the trio with "complicity in attempted murder in relation to a terrorist enterprise." They face a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail if convicted.

Sheikh Mohammed, who has confessed to being the architect of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, was the alleged military commander of all Al Qaeda foreign operations at the time.

The Paris trial opened one month after Sheikh Mohammed appeared before an American military tribunal in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to answer charges that he was the mastermind behind September 11.

The trial is scheduled to end on February 6.


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