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Germany

US Expert to Testify in German Terror Trial

A member of the official US commission on the September 11, 2001 attacks said Wednesday he would testify in the trial of a key suspect here next week but face restrictions on what he can say.

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A US lawyer will give limited testimony at Motassadeq's trial

Commission senior counsel Dietrich Snell, a deputy attorney general in the state of New York, said in a fax read aloud before the court retrying Moroccan national Mounir El Motassadeq that he would appear next Tuesday.

He said he would give a detailed description of the findings of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, but would be required to leave out anything deemed classified by the US government.

Snell said this would include details about terror suspects in US custody. Both the prosecution and the defense have sought more information on Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, two suspected organizers of the attacks.

The US Justice Department sent a fax to the court in August saying that the suspects had told investigators that Motassadeq had no prior knowledge of the plot, but warned that they might not be telling the truth.

Snell added that his testimony would be based on the final report of the bipartisan commission published last July, which investigated the attacks on New York and Washington that claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people.

No classified information

He said he could not provide information from documents classified as secret by US law, nor make any statement about the questioning of "members of the 9/11 conspiracy and other persons."

An FBI agent who testified at the trial in late January was unable to answer a number of questions put to him because the information was deemed classified by the US government.

After the agent told the court that justice authorities in his country had more information about the accused, presiding judge Ernst-Rainer Schudt said he would send a written request to Washington for more evidence.

Federal prosecutor Walter Hemberger said Tuesday that the interior ministry had been told that it would be receiving new information on Motassadeq's case from US authorities.

A report on the website of German newsweekly Der Spiegel said there had been indications from Washington that the new report was expected soon and would contain further summaries of testimony by Sheikh Mohammed and Binalshibh.

Motassadeq is charged with accessory to the murder of some 3,000 people in the suicide hijackings and membership in a terrorist organization. He was jailed for 15 years in February 2003 for his alleged role in the plot. But in March 2004 a new trial was ordered because US authorities refused to allow Binalshibh or Sheikh Mohammed to testify.

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