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BREAKING NEWS ~ Moussaoui judge rules death penalty case can go on

[JURIST] Wire services are reporting that US District Judge Leonie Brinkema has ruled that the government can continue to seek the death penalty in the Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] case, but that the government aviation witnesses who were improperly coached by a Transportation Security Administration attorney would not be permitted to testify and other aviation related evidence will not be admitted. Reuters has more.

5:15 PM ET - Making her ruling, Brinkema said in court "I don't think in the annals of criminal law there has ever been a case with this many significant problems...Clearly, there could be damage done to the defense. I don't think I can tell whether or not the witnesses' testimony may have changed." A government prosecutor told the judge that the government would consider appealing the decision not to allow the FAA witnesses, whose testimony is considered key to the government's case because they would have testified about what the FAA could have done to protect air travelers if it had known of the al Qaeda threat. Bloomberg has more.

6:06 PM ET - The written order [PDF] on the death notice is now online. Judge Brinkema has additionally ordered the sentencing trial stayed [PDF order] until Monday, March 20, to give the government time to decide whether it will appeal her ruling to strike the aviation portion of the case.

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