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Germany

9/11 Suspect Trial Resumes After Delay

A Moroccan student being retried over involvement in the September 11, 2001 attacks in New York and Washington, provided "active support" to the suicide pilots, the federal prosecutor told a German court on Monday.

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The prosecution says Mounir el Motassadeq had ties to Al Qaeda

The prosecutor's argument in the retrial of the Mounir el Motassadeq scheduled for Monday before the Higher Regional Court in the northern German city of Hamburg was delayed by several hours after Andreas Schulz, a lawyer for families of the victims, asked the court to take into consideration new evidence possibly linking el Motassadeq to the German Islamist Christian Ganczarski, currently held in France on suspicion of terrorist activities. The court rejected the proposal.

Terror- Prozess

Federal prosectuor Walter Hemberger (right) believes there is enough evidence to convict el Motassadeq

Mounir el Motassadeq "was in no way limited to just providing mutual aid between brothers," said prosecutor general Walter Hemberger, emphasizing that the suspect had contributed to the "concealment" of terrorist acts.

Close ties

The accused had power of attorney over the bank account of one of the suicide pilots, Marwan Al-Shehhi, which was used to finance the flight training for the kamikazes in Egypt. According to the prosecution, el Motassadeq was also present as the group around the pilot Mohammed Atta concocted their terrorist plans.

Mohamed Atta mit Thumbnail

Mohamed Atta was one of two men who came to Florida for flight training school a year before the terrorist attacks in New York

"We are convinced that the group around Atta could have been classified as a terrorist organization since 1999," said Matthias Krauß, senior public prosecutor.

El Motassadeq, a friend of three of the suicide hijackers involved in the September 11 attacks had pleaded not guilty during the first trial. He denied being involved in terrorist activites and described his services to would-be suicide bombers as offering help to his fellow students.

Verdict overruled

He was sentenced in February 2003 to the maximum 15 years in prison on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder.

But a German federal tribunal overturned the conviction last year and ordered a new trial. El Motassadeq, who had pleaded not guilty during the first trial, has been living in his Hamburg apartment, after his release from prison in April 2005.

The defense is expected to deliver their closing statement on August 12, with the verdict to follow on August 19.

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