Moussaoui Gets Life In Prison
Moussaoui Gets Life In Prison
ALEXANDRIA, Va., May 3, 2006
(CBS/AP) A federal jury sentenced al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to life in prison Wednesday for his role in the deadliest terrorist attack in U.S. history, on Sept. 11, 2001.
On the seventh day of deliberation, the jury of nine men and three women informed Judge Leonie Brinkema that it had reached a decision.
The nine men and three women rebuffed the government's appeal for death for the only person charged in this country in the four suicide jetliner hijackings that killed nearly 3,000 people on Sept. 11, 2001.
The verdict came after four years of legal maneuvering and a six-week trial that put jurors on an emotional roller coaster and gave the 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent a platform to taunt Americans. The judge was to hand down the life sentence Thursday morning, bound by the jury's verdict.
It was the sixth case in a row since the death penalty was restored in 1976 in which federal prosecutors failed to obtain an execution in this courthouse all the more striking this time because the Pentagon is just miles away.
Earlier Wednesday, Brinkema told trial lawyers that she doesn't believe Moussaoui's claims on the witness stand that he knew advance details of the Sept. 11 plot.
"I still think that Moussaoui was not accurate in a lot of what he said about how much he knew about what was going to happen with which particular buildings and when," Brinkema said during a closed hearing on April 21 outside the jury's presence.
Transcripts of the hearing were released Tuesday.
Moussaoui's bombshell testimony on March 27, in which he took the stand against the advice of his court-appointed lawyers and claimed a direct role in the 9/11 plot after years of denial, revived a moribund prosecution case.
Defense attorneys have argued that Moussaoui lied on the stand either to inflate his role in history or antagonize the jury into making him a martyr through execution.
Specifically, Moussaoui claimed that he and would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid were to have flown a fifth plane on 9/11 into the White House, and that he also knew the World Trade Center towers were targeted.
Brinkema made her comment during a debate over jury instructions.
She defended a technical ruling in favor of the defense as a way of "evening the playing field" in response to her concerns about Moussaoui's testimony.
Even though jurors have no way of knowing about Brinkema's editorial comment presuming they obey rules against following news coverage, prosecutor David Novak objected to her remark.
"With all due respect, that's the jury's decision to decide whether they found him to be credible or not," Novak told Brinkema.
Meanwhile, the jury began a seventh day of deliberations Wednesday to decide whether the Sept. 11 conspirator should be sentenced to death or life in prison.
A separate transcript released Tuesday revealed that defense attorneys tried unsuccessfully to remove a juror from the panel after she expressed fears that the media would harass her after the trial concludes.
The unidentified female juror said that a coworker had deduced she was on the panel even though the jury is anonymous. She also said during the April 17 hearing — before deliberations began — that she fears losing her privacy.
Defense lawyers said she should be replaced because her fears might influence her decision, but Brinkema kept the juror on the panel after she said her concerns would not affect her decision.
Moussaoui is the only person charged in this country in the Sept. 11 attacks.
The jury previously found Moussaoui eligible for execution after more than 16 hours of deliberations in late March and early April.
Although he was in jail on immigration violations on Sept. 11, the jury ruled that lies he told federal agents the month before the attacks kept them from identifying and stopping some of the hijackers.
Caesar_MGCall me "Not Surprised".
French authorities said Thursday they may consider pressing the United States to have Zacarias Moussaoui serve his life sentence in France.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said France would wait until the sentence is formally pronounced later Thursday to move forward. A jury recommended a life sentence Wednesday for Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent, the only person charged in the United States for the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
France and the United States are linked by two conventions on transferring convicts, and "an eventual request for transferring Mr. Zacarias Moussaoui would be studied in this framework," Mattei said.
He said no decision would be made until U.S. authorities "define the conditions of his sentence."
Justice Minister Pascal Clement echoed that. "In France we have conditions that are specific, and we must know if they are compatible," he said onFrance-2 television.
Emotional, nervous and dressed in black, she repeated over and over, "this is terrible."
"I share the suffering and the pain of the parents of the victims. I'm with them," she said.
"I feel like a part of myself is dead. Buried. With my son who is going to be buried all of his life at 37 years old. For things that he didn't do. Because he spoke too much," she said.
She called her son a scapegoat and the trial a masquerade, and insisted that his guilt was never proven. She said the life sentence was worse than the death penalty.
"Now he is going to die in little doses," she said. "He is going to live like a rat in a hole. What for? They are so cruel, they were wrong to want his head. They should have gone all the way to the end if they were capable."
Why does that sound, oddly, fitting?
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