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German appeals court finds Moroccan guilty of aiding 9/11 attacks

[JURIST] The German Federal Court of Justice [official website, in German] Thursday found Moroccan-born Mounir al-Motassadeq [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] guilty of assisting the men who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks [JURIST news archive] on the US. The appeals court overturned a lower court decision acquitting Motassadeq, avoiding a third trial [JURIST report] against him. Motassadeq was originally convicted in 2003 on charges that he gave financial backing and other support to the hijackers, but Germany's Supreme Court overturned the verdict [JURIST report] and ordered a new trial. Last year, a German court determined that there was not enough evidence [JURIST report] showing Motassadeq actually knew of the Sept. 11 plot, but did find him guilty of being a member of a terrorist organization and sentenced him to seven years in prison. Thursday's ruling that Motassadeq is guilty of 246 counts of accessory to murder is in response to the prosecution's appeal of the not guilty ruling and sentence. Motassadeq had also appealed [JURIST report] the seven-year sentence, seeking a shorter term.

The appeals court sent its verdict back to a lower court to sentence the Moroccan, who is expected to receive up to 15 years in jail. Motassadeq has admitted to attending an al Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and being friends with some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, but claims he had no knowledge of their plans to carry out the attacks. Motassadeq's lawyer said he would wait to hear the lower court's sentence before determining whether to appeal to the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany [official website, English version], the country's highest court. BBC News has more; IOL has additional coverage.

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