Tuesday, April 19, 2005

New guilty plea by 9/11 suspect


New guilty plea by 9/11 suspect

A judge is to consider once again a guilty plea from Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person in the US charged over the 11 September terror attacks.

Judge Leonie Brinkema's decision is expected to hinge on whether she thinks Mr Moussaoui is mentally competent to make the decision.

A letter Mr Moussaoui sent to the court in Alexandria, Virginia, is to be considered by lawyers.

Ms Brinkema reportedly intends to meet Mr Moussaoui this week.

Trial delays

Mr Moussaoui - a French citizen of Moroccan origin - tried to plead guilty in 2002 but took back the plea a week later.

The US government says he was a full member of the original hijack team involved in the 2001 attacks.

Mr Moussaoui has also accused his court-appointed lawyers of wanting to have him executed and fired them.

But Ms Brinkema revoked Mr Moussaoui's right to defend himself.

His lawyers have argued against the death penalty, and are likely to oppose the guilty plea, if it means he could be sentenced to death.

The trial has been beset by delays.

In March, the US Supreme Court refused to examine an appeal by his team for access to US al-Qaeda suspects on security grounds.

Last year, federal judges barred Mr Moussaoui from calling people held at the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as witnesses.

The court said the accused could only use government-prepared summaries of the interrogation statements from al-Qaeda suspects in Guantanamo.

The three judges also overruled a lower court decision by deciding that the death penalty could be used if there was a guilty verdict.