Tuesday, August 10, 2004


Or, Chicago, Pt. II. From the Guardian:
The retrial of a Moroccan man convicted of involvement in the September 11 attacks appeared to be in doubt last night after the Bush administration refused to allow two key al-Qaida suspects to give evidence.

On the first day of the new trial of Mounir el Motassadeq, a court in Hamburg was told that the US had refused to allow its al-Qaida suspects to be questioned in Germany.

Mr Motassadeq, 30, is accused of plotting the attacks in 2001 together with Mohamed Atta and other members of Hamburg's al-Qaida cell.

Washington's announcement came as Mr Motassadeq's defence lawyer tried to have the case thrown out. Josef Graessle-Muenscher told the court it would be impossible to find out what had really happened on September 11 because al-Qaida suspects in US custody had probably been tortured.

"In this swamp of torture and prison camps, no court can ascertain the truth any more," he said in an intervention detailing US abuses of prisoners, especially at Guantánamo Bay in Cuba . . . .

In February 2003 Mr Motassadeq became the first and only person to be convicted in connection with the attacks, and was sentenced to 15 years in jail. But in March this year a higher court overturned the verdict, ruling that the original judges had no access to crucial testimony from Ramzi bin-al Shaibah, a key member of al-Qaida's Hamburg cell who was captured in Pakistan in 2002. It ordered a new trial.

Yesterday it emerged that the US would not allow access to Bin al-Shaibah or other al-Qaida captives, despite German requests.

In a letter to the German embassy in Washington, read out in court, the US authorities said they had to protect the sources and methods of the security services.

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