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Moussaoui judge rules against public disclosure of Flight 93 tapes

[JURIST] The judge overseeing the sentencing trial [case docket] of Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] ruled Monday that only the jury and other individuals present in the courtroom will be able to hear the cockpit tape [JURIST report] of United Airlines Flight 93 [National Park Service website] that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11 [JURIST news archive]. In her order [PDF text], US District Judge Leonie Brinkema wrote that "the privacy rights of the victims and the concerns of family members about public disclosure of the audiotape outweigh any right of the public to have access to the recording." Brinkema made her decision after cautioning prosecutors that the potentially "prejudicial" testimony of many emotional witnesses may be grounds for an appeal. Prosecutors said they would present briefer testimony after receiving the judge's warning.

Jurors found Moussaoui eligible for the death penalty [JURIST report] earlier this month and in this phase of the trial, the jury will decide whether capital punishment should be imposed. While prosecutors have been offering the testimony of those affected by 9/11, Moussaoui's defense team plans to assert that he has schizophrenia and suffered through an impoverished childhood in an attempt to avoid his execution in favor of life in prison. AP has more.

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