Monday, May 08, 2006

Zacarias "John Kerry" Moussaoui

Moussaoui has second thoughts on guilty plea

Less than a week after being jailed for life in connection with the 9/11 attacks, the al-Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui, right, asked last night to withdraw his guilty plea so that he could have a new trial. “Moussaoui wishes to withdraw his guilty plea because when he entered the plea his ‘understanding of the American legal system was completely flawed’,” his lawyers said in the motion.
Moussaoui said in an affidavit: “I now see that it is possible that I can receive a fair trial” in the US. He added: “Even with Americans as jurors I have the opportunity to prove that I did not have any knowledge of and was not a member of the plot to hijack planes and crash them into buildings on September 11, 2001. I wish to withdraw my guilty plea and ask the court for a new trial to prove my innocence.”

A jury rejected prosecutors’ calls for the death penalty last week and called for the 37-year-old French citizen to be jailed for life without a chance of parole after he admitted six charges of conspiracy over the September 11 attacks. Moussaoui decided last Friday, while waiting to be transferred to a super-maximum security prison in Colorado, that he wanted to change his plea, his lawyers said in documents submitted to a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, where his trial was held.

On Thursday US District Judge Leonie Brinkema told Moussaoui that he could appeal his sentence, but added: “I believe it would be an act of futility.” Moussaoui’s court-appointed lawyers said that they filed the motion even though a federal rule “prohibits a defendant from withdrawing a guilty plea after imposition of sentence”. They did so because of their “problematic relationship with Moussaoui” and because new lawyers have yet to be appointed to replace them. (AFP)