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Germany

Moroccan Convicted for Aiding Sept. 11 Terrorists Gets Retrial

A German court has ordered a retrial for the only person convicted for the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. Moroccan Mounir el Motassadeq was serving a 15-year sentence for aiding the suicide hijackers.

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Motassadeq will get another chance.

Motassadeq was convicted by Hamburg's highest court in February 2003 as an accessory to murder in 3,066 cases, membership in a terrorist organization, attempted murder and grievous bodily harm.

But the Federal Criminal Court in Karlsruhe has sent the 30-year-old's case back to the Hamburg High Court for a new trial and judgment. The former student's lawyers successfully argued that Motassadeq should go to court again, saying his original trial had been unfair because the United States had refused to allow witness testimony.

Motassadeq kriegt 15 Jahre

Motassadeq's attorneys, Hartmut Jacobi and Hans Leistritz

The attorneys based their appeal on evidence given during the trial of fellow Moroccan Abdelighani Mzoudi, who was acquitted of having a role in Sept. 11 attacks last month. The anonymous information that exonerated Mzoudi is thought to have come from another suspected accomplice, Ramzi Binalshibh, according to which only Binalshibh and pilot Mohammed Atta -- who also lived in Hamburg -- knew of the suicide attack plans in the United States. Binalshibh is now in U.S. custody.

Despite Motassadeq's conviction of being a member in the Hamburg al Qaeda terror cell led by Atta, he has repeatedly reiterated his innocence. In testimony during his trial, Motassadeq denied the existence of a Hamburg cell that independently planned the attacks. Referring to information from the U.S. Congress and German intelligence, he said the attacks had been planned in Afghanistan and that al Qaeda had recruited pilots.

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