Archive for Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Moussaoui case goes to jury

April 25, 2006

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— Prosecutors showed the most gruesome and heart-rending photos of Sept. 11 again on Monday and told jurors that only Zacarias Moussaoui's death could give the victims justice. The defense asked his jury to spurn retribution and not let a delusional and inept terrorist bait them into making him a martyr.

With those final arguments, the life of the 37-year-old Frenchman was placed in the hands of the same nine men and three women who early this month found him responsible for at least one death on 9-11 even though he was in jail at the time.

Now they must weigh the suffering and the glee the confessed al-Qaida conspirator took in it on the witness stand against his role, his mental health and background to decide whether he deserves the death penalty or life in prison without possibility of release.

The jurors deliberated three hours and went home for the day. They will resume this morning.

Prosecutor David Novak told jurors a death penalty would say: "We are the United States of America, and we are not going to put up with a bunch of thugs who invoke God's name to kill nearly 3,000 Americans."

Moussaoui "is nothing but a mass murderer," Novak said. "This defendant is pure evil."

With such arguments, defense attorney Gerald Zerkin said, "the government opts for retribution." But "this is about history," he said. "It is about how our justice system responded to the worst terrorist attack on our soil."

He said even the Nuremberg trials of Nazis after World War II handed out only 11 death sentences for "the worst atrocities in the history of man" and paved the way for reconciliation.

Moussaoui is a "a veritable caricature of an al-Qaida terrorist," "the operative who couldn't shoot straight" and "the only al-Qaida operative inept enough to be captured before 9-11," Zerkin said.

"He is offered as a sacrificial lamb" while no charges are brought against 9-11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, coordinator Ramzi Binalshihb and other captured al-Qaida leaders, Zerkin said.

Moussaoui's testimony about how he relished the pain of the victims "is proof that he wants you to sentence him to death," Zerkin said. "He is baiting you into it. He came to America to die in jihad and you are his last chance."

Instead, Zerkin said, the jury can "confine him to a miserable existence until he dies and give him not the death of a jihadist he wants, but the long slow death of a common criminal."

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