Zacarias Moussaoui Requests a New Trial

Confessed terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison last week. He has now asked the federal judge in his case for a new trial. In a motion to the court, Moussaoui says he thought the judicial system was a charade and he would be given the death penalty.

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A jury last week sentenced confessed terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui to life in prison without parole. Now, he wants a new trial.

NPR's Laura Sullivan reports.


For more than four years, Moussaoui couldn't have made his situation any worse. He refused to speak with his own attorneys, called the judge in the case names, and often screamed, God curse America, when he left the courtroom. Yesterday, he said he wants to take it all back. In an affidavit, he asked to withdraw his guilty plea, saying he didn't think it was possible he could receive a fair trial.

He said, I was sure that the justice system was just a charade. And, in the end, I would be given death. He continued, I had thought that I would be sentenced to death, based on the emotions and anger toward me, for the deaths on September 11th. But after reviewing the jury verdict, and reading how the jurors set aside their emotions and disgust for me, I came to understand that the jury process was more complex than I assumed."

Moussaoui pled guilty to conspiracy in the 9/11 plot a year ago. When he took the stand during his sentencing trial in March, he told the jury he was supposed to pilot a plane into the White House with would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid. He said he knew all of the hijackers. But in his affidavit filed yesterday, he says he made all that up.

He wrote, I decided to testify that I was a member of the plot, even though I knew that was a complete fabrication. I have never met Mohammed Atta. And while I may have seen a few of the other hijackers at the guesthouse, I never knew them or anything about their operation. I was in the United States as a member of al-Qaida, but was involved in a separate operation.

The judge in the case, Leonie Brinkema, denied the motion last night. She said his request comes, quote, “too late.” Moussaoui can appeal her decision.

Laura Sullivan, NPR News, Washington.

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