Germany withholding proof against Moussaoui from U.S.


Published: Sunday, September 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, August 31, 2002 at 11:29 p.m.
BERLIN - Germany has told the United States it will withhold evidence against Sept. 11 conspiracy defendant Zacarias Moussaoui unless it receives assurances that the material won't be used to secure a death penalty against him, Germany's justice minister said in remarks released Saturday.
Investigators suspect Moussaoui, who is awaiting trial in Virginia on charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism and murder federal employees, was training to become the pilot of one of the airliners hijacked for the attacks when he was arrested.
German prosecutors say he received money for flight school fees from a member of the terrorist group based in the northern city of Hamburg.
But the government insists it can't bend laws forbidding the extradition of suspects to countries with the death penalty or supplying evidence that could incriminate someone facing execution.
In an interview with the Der Spiegel news weekly, Justice Minister Herta Daeubler-Gmelin said Germany would provide documents on Moussaoui to the United States on condition that they "may not be used for a death sentence or an execution."
A letter explaining the long-standing German position had been sent to U.S. authorities in reply to a request for information about Moussaoui, she said.
"At the moment, the United States are examining our answer and will then get back to us," she said.
A spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department said he had no immediate comment.
Outlawing the death penalty is a requirement for membership of the 15-member European Union.
Daeubler-Gmelin insisted the exchange was not putting more pressure on relations between the Germany and the United States already strained by Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's criticism of U.S. threats to attack Iraq.
Cooperation between justice authorities in the two countries is "good and trustful," Daeubler-Gmelin said. "After Sept. 11, one shouldn't try to soften that."
Moussaoui, 34, was arrested last summer at a flight school in Minnesota and became the first person to be charged directly in connection with the attacks. He is being held in custody in pending the opening of his trial in January.
U.S. law enforcement officials have said Moussaoui received two money transfers from Ramzi Binalshibh, who roomed with suicide pilot Mohamed Atta in Hamburg and wanted to take part in the hijackings, but was unable to secure a visa.
German prosecutors this week announced that they had charged another suspect, Mounir El Motassadeq, with belonging to a terror group and 3,000 counts of being an accessory to murder for his alleged support for the Hamburg terror cell.

Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.

Comments are currently unavailable on this article

▲ Return to Top