Fw: NYTimes.com Article: Prosecutors Seek a Death Sentence in Terrorism Case

Lutfi M. Hussein lutfi.hussein at ASU.EDU
Wed Mar 20 05:25:37 UTC 2002

Lutfi M. Hussein
Department of English
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ 85287-0302, USA
Email address: lutfi.hussein at asu.edu
Homepage: http://www.public.asu.edu/~lutfiawa/
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Sent: Tuesday, March 19, 2002 9:49 PM
Subject: NYTimes.com Article: Prosecutors Seek a Death Sentence in Terrorism

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> Prosecutors Seek a Death Sentence in Terrorism Case
> March 19, 2002
> WASHINGTON, March 18 - Federal prosecutors in Virginia and
> New York are seeking the death penalty for Zacarias
> Moussaoui, who has been identified by law enforcement
> officials as the "20th hijacker" in the Sept. 11 attacks,
> government officials said today.
> The move, which is expected to be approved in Washington
> and announced in court next week, comes as prosecutors
> offered some of the first details of the trial
> preparations, including their plans to seek testimony from
> many relatives of the Sept. 11 victims in urging a jury to
> put Mr. Moussaoui to death.
> Officials would not say if the prosecutors had received the
> final approval from the Justice Department needed to pursue
> the death penalty. But they said the approval was all but
> certain given Attorney General John Ashcroft's strong
> support of capital punishment and his statement last year
> that Mr. Moussaoui "engaged in the same preparation for
> murder" as the 19 hijackers.
> The case is scheduled for trial this fall in Alexandria,
> Va., outside Washington. Government officials said the
> written request to the Justice Department to seek the death
> penalty was signed by both Paul J. McNulty, the United
> States attorney in Alexandria, and James B. Comey, the
> United States attorney in Manhattan. Prosecutors and
> investigators from the two offices have worked closely
> together on the case.
> Mr. Moussaoui, a 33-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent,
> is charged with conspiring in the attacks last year,
> although no detailed evidence linking him to the hijackers
> has ever been made public.
> Mr. Moussaoui was in a prison cell on the day of the
> attacks; he had been arrested in Minnesota in August on
> visa violations after raising the suspicions of a flight
> school where he was training.
> Four of the six counts brought against Mr. Moussaoui carry
> a maximum sentence of death, and the Justice Department
> faces a court-imposed March 29 deadline to announce whether
> prosecutors will seek his execution.
> A decision to seek the death penalty was previewed in a
> letter sent last week to relatives of many of the Sept. 11
> victims asking for their help.
> The letter, signed by David J. Novak, a lead prosecutor in
> the case, said that if the Justice Department gave final
> approval, "the Moussaoui case will become a capital
> prosecution, meaning that the United States will be asking
> the jury to find that defendant Moussaoui should be
> executed should he be found guilty."
> "During any death penalty prosecution, the government has
> the right to present evidence during the sentencing hearing
> - known as the penalty phase - involving the impact of the
> crime upon the victims," the letter said. "We intend to
> offer such evidence and, therefore, solicit your help in
> our prosecution."
> It continued, "We want you to understand that this
> victim-impact evidence will be presented in support of our
> request that Mr. Moussaoui should be executed."
> Mr. Moussaoui's lawyers either had no comment or did not
> return phone calls from a reporter.
> Government officials said the defense lawyers were so
> certain that the death penalty would be sought that they
> had declined to attend a Justice Department hearing at
> which they could have argued that the death penalty was an
> inappropriate punishment in the case. Such a hearing is
> routine when federal prosecutors are weighing whether to
> seek the death penalty.
> "Apparently the defense didn't want to show its hand to us
> yet," one official said.
> Mr. Moussaoui's lawyers are widely expected to focus on a
> lack of evidence tying Mr. Moussaoui directly to the Sept.
> 11 hijackers or the planning of the terrorist attacks.
> The government's case appears to rely largely on actions by
> Mr. Moussaoui that resembled those of the hijackers, like
> receiving flight training in the United States.
> He is also accused of training at camps in Afghanistan run
> by the Qaeda terrorism network and of receiving money from
> the same sources in Germany and the Middle East as the
> hijackers.
> Government officials said the Justice Department had
> stepped up its investigation overseas of Mr. Moussaoui in
> an effort to bolster the case. Spokesmen for Mr.
> Moussaoui's family in France have said that his mother and
> brother have been summoned for interviews there with an
> investigator from the United States attorney's office in
> Alexandria.
> American officials said negotiations were continuing with
> the Malaysian government over the possible extradition to
> the United States of a Malaysian businessman who has
> confessed that he played host at different times to Mr.
> Moussaoui and to a pair of the Sept. 11 hijackers.
> In the letter to family members of those who died in the
> Sept. 11 attacks and to injured victims, Mr. Novak said
> prosecutors would argue for the death penalty for Mr.
> Moussaoui by citing "the individual stories of
> approximately 30 victims who will serve as a microcosm of
> all."
> The letter invited the recipients to meetings in New York,
> Washington or Boston to be interviewed. "The crimes
> committed on Sept. 11 resulted in the death of more than
> 3,000 people and serious injuries to thousands more," it
> said. "Obviously, we cannot tell the story of every victim;
> otherwise, the trial would last forever."
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