Sept. 11 Conviction Upheld by German Court Motassadeq Loses Appeal

After a legal marathon that lasted five years, Mounir el Motassadeq has lost his final appeal against his conviction for involvement in the Sept. 11 terror plot. Germany's Federal Court of Justice has rejected his appeal, meaning he will now spend 15 years in jail.


Moroccan Mounir El Motassadeq, a friend of the Sept. 11 hijackers, has lost his final appeal against his 15 year sentence for being an accessory to mass murder.
AP

Moroccan Mounir El Motassadeq, a friend of the Sept. 11 hijackers, has lost his final appeal against his 15 year sentence for being an accessory to mass murder.

The ruling that sealed Mounir el Motassadeq's fate contained just a few lines. The five judges of the Federal Court of Justice in Karlsruhe threw out the 33-year-old Moroccan's appeal as "unfounded." A re-examination of the judgement handed down in January 2007 had not revealed any "legal errors." The ruling means that Motassadeq has now exhausted all the legal avenues open to him in Germany. In January the Federal Constitutional Court rejected a separate appeal against his 15-year sentence.

The Federal Court of Justice ruling draws a final line under the legal dispute surrounding Motassadeq. The Moroccan man's lawyers had filed the appeal against the sentence handed down by Hamburg's Higher Regional Court on Jan. 8. After a five year legal odyssey Motassadeq was sentenced to 15 years in prison in prison for providing the 9/11 hijackers with logistical support. The court found him guilty of membership of a terrorist cell and of being an accessory to murder.

Motassadeq had lived in Hamburg and was a close friend of Mohamed Atta and some of the other 9/11 attackers. He was arrested in 2001, two months after the attacks on New York and the Pentagon. He was first convicted and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison in 2003 but that verdict was overturned by a federal court the following year -- largely because the court did not have access to evidence from al-Qaida suspects in US custody.

At a retrial in 2005, the Hamburg court acquitted him of direct involvement but sentenced him to seven years for membership in a terrorist organization. Prosecutors appealed and in November 2006, the Federal Court of Justice handed down a guilty verdict, convicting him on 246 counts of accessory to murder. The presiding judge Klaus Tolksdorf said the evidence showed that Motassadeq knew the terrorists were planning to hijack planes for the attacks and that it didn't matter if he knew the exact targets or timing of the attacks.

Andreas Schulze, who represented several of the victims of the 9/11 attacks during the marathon of trials, welcomed the ruling. "For the victims it is important that the judgement is legally binding and that the sentence has been confirmed," he told SPIEGEL ONLINE.

smd/ap/reuters

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