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Sept. 11 conspirator appeals German sentence

[JURIST] Moroccan-born Mounir al-Motassadeq [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] on Tuesday appealed the 15-year prison sentence [JURIST report] handed down by a German court earlier this week for Motassadeq's role in assisting the men who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks [JURIST news archive]. Lawyers for Motassadeq also said Tuesday that they might take the case to the European Court of Justice [official website]. Motassadeq's defense team hopes to force a new trial with witnesses previously prevented from testifying by the United States government. Motassadeq's first conviction was overturned [JURIST report] in 2004, in part due to concerns over access to witnesses, but on retrial American officials refused to allow terror suspects in US custody to testify in court [JURIST report], instead agreeing only to provide summaries of its interrogations of prisoners.

In his second trial, Motassadeq was convicted as an accessory to the murders of the 246 passengers and crew aboard the four hijacked airplanes. In 2005, a German lower court determined that there was not enough evidence [JURIST report] to prove he knew about the plot, but the acquittal was overturned by an appeals court [JURIST report] in November 2006. Motassadeq has admitted to attending an al Qaida training camp in Afghanistan and being friends with some of the Sept. 11 hijackers, but denies knowledge of the attack. The court held Motassadeq guilty due to his knowledge that his accomplices planned to hijack planes, even if he remained ignorant as to the details of the attacks. The Financial Times has more.

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