Friday, August 06, 2004

9/11 suspect to be acquitted?

Due to U.S. intransigence over releasing evidence and allegations of torture of key witness (link)

BERLIN, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Germany said on Friday it was urgently pressing the United States to release evidence that could help convict a Moroccan accused of plotting the Sept. 11 attacks on U.S. targets.

...

Motassadeq, 30, was part of a circle of Arab students in Hamburg which included three of the Sept. 11 hijackers and Ramzi bin al-Shaibah, a leading al Qaeda figure who has boasted of masterminding the attacks.

Germany has been pressing the United States to let judges question bin al-Shaibah, who was captured in Pakistan in 2002, or allow the use in court of transcripts from his interrogation. Washington has so far resisted on security grounds.

In a speech in June, Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries called the U.S. stance understandable but regrettable, adding that defendants must be given the benefit of the doubt if key evidence is withheld.

Even if the transcripts were released, defence lawyers say they would challenge them by arguing that any statement from bin al-Shaibah had probably been obtained under torture.

A prosecution source told Reuters that no fresh evidence against Motassadeq had emerged within Germany and he was likely to be acquitted of the main charge -- being an accessory to the Sept. 11 attacks -- unless Washington produced new information.

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