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French concern over Moussaoui case

Moussaoui is charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to
Moussaoui is charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to "murder thousands of people" in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon  

By CNN's Jim Bittermann

PARIS, France (CNN) -- The French justice minister plans to raise her country's objections to the death penalty in the case of a French citizen who is facing a possible death sentence in the U.S. for his alleged role in September 11.

However, aides to Justice Minister Marylise Lebranchu concede that because Zacarias Moussaoui is already in a United States jail, there is little the French government can do about his fate, other than raise their objections with U.S. officials and ensure he has access to an adequate defence.

A hearing has been scheduled for Thursday afternoon in New York for Moussaoui, the first person charged for his direct role in the September 11 terror attacks.

U.S. files first charges related directly to Sept. 11. (December 12)

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France opened Moussaoui file in '94 
Attack on America
Zacarias Moussaoui was indicted on six counts:
1) Conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism

2) Conspiracy to commit air piracy

3) Conspiracy to destroy aircraft

4) Conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction

5) Conspiracy to commit murder

6) Conspiracy to destroy property

Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, has been charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorist network to "murder thousands of people" in New York, Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft said on Tuesday.

The multiple conspiracy charges against Moussaoui, 33, allege that he engaged in the "same preparation for murder" as the 19 hijackers who commandeered four U.S. jets and crashed them. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

U.S. officials have said that so far Moussaoui has not availed himself of assistance from the French consul in New York in arranging his defense. That assistance is typically provided by most nations, including the United States, when their citizens are arrested in another country.

The French government finds itself involved in both sides of the Moussaoui case. While France refuses to extradite anyone to a country with the death penalty, it is a member of the anti-terrorist alliance.

U.S. officials have said that much of the information that led to Moussaoui's arrest was provided by French intelligence officials.


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