Monday, January 08, 2007

Associate Of 9/11 Hijackers To Be Sentenced In Germany

A Moroccan friend of the September 11 hijackers who was found guilty last year of being an accessory to mass murder is due to be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison by a German court on Monday. Mounir El Motassadeq, a member of a group of radical Arab students in Hamburg who organised the 2001 attacks, is one of only two men convicted of involvement in the plot which resulted in the death of nearly 3,000 people. In November, Germany's top appeals court in Karlsruhe found the 32-year-old guilty of abetting the murder of 246 passengers and crew who died on four planes that crashed on September 11, 2001. The decision overturned a 2005 ruling which convicted Motassadeq of belonging to a terrorist organisation but cleared him of abetting mass murder.
Mounir El Motassadeq
That court said he was just a low-tier member of the group led by suicide hijacker Mohammed Atta and Motassadeq's lawyers insist he knew nothing about the plot to fly planes into targets in New York and Washington. But prosecutors successfully argued in November that under a "division of labour" within Atta's group, Motassadeq played a key role in running the financial affairs of other cell members and covering up their absence from Germany before the attacks. The complex and drawn-out case has strained Berlin's relations with Washington in past years as German courts tested how far the United States would go in giving sensitive evidence. Zacarias Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent who received a life sentence from a U.S. court in May 2006, is the only other person convicted of links to the attacks in which two planes were steered into the World Trade Centre, another hit the Pentagon and a fourth crashed in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania.