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Moussaoui wants more time to prepare case

Zacarias Moussaoui
Zacarias Moussaoui  

From Phil Hirschkorn

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man charged as a September 11 conspirator, is asking a federal judge for more time to prepare the defense that he is handling himself.

The request comes in a stack of 11 new handwritten motions unsealed Wednesday by the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, where Moussaoui's trial is scheduled to begin with jury selection September 30. The motions were all filed Tuesday.

Anticipating next Monday's deadline, Moussaoui asked Judge Leonie Brinkema for 60 days to prepare his criminal defense motions. He said that the 14 business days between June 13, the day Brinkema ruled Moussaoui was competent to act as his own lawyer, and July 8, when the motions are due, was inadequate.

"Even the best lawyer in the world cannot prepare September 11 in around 14 days. I have not even received (sic) the evidence against me completely," he wrote.

The evidence as of a month ago included: 1,200 CD-ROMs, 1,217 audio cassettes, 296 videotapes, 202 computer hard drives, plus hundreds of classified documents and tapes, according to Frank Dunham, Moussaoui's fired federal defender.

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Dunham wrote Brinkema Wednesday, "There is no way ... Mr. Moussaoui himself can look at all of this discovery between now and the scheduled trial date."

It was unclear whether Moussaoui was asking for a total of 60 business days or simply 60 additional days. Either move would stretch the motions process well into September. Still, Moussaoui wrote he would not want the trial itself delayed; opening statements are scheduled for October 15.

Moussaoui complained that his lack of access to "the outside world" makes it impossible to defend himself. His strict conditions of incarceration, known as Special Administrative Measures (SAMS), prohibit access to anyone but an attorney and are routinely imposed on all U.S. terrorism suspects.

Moussaoui fired his court-appointed federal defenders last month and has rejected the aide of another attorney Brinkema named to be his "stand-by counsel" to assist him with court procedures.

The July 8 motions deadline reflects a two-week extension previously granted by Brinkema because of the "gravity" of the charges. Moussaoui faces a possible death penalty if convicted on any of the first four of the six conspiracy counts against him: to commit an act of terrorism, to commit aircraft piracy, to destroy aircraft, to use weapons of mass destruction, to kill U.S. employees, and to destroy property.

Prosecutors allege Moussaoui planned to join the 19 other Muslim extremists who hijacked four U.S. airliners September 11 and aimed them at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, killing more than 3,000 people.

Moussaoui has filed 80 motions since late April, when he declared his desire to represent himself. This week alone, 27 of those motions were unsealed.

Moussaoui refers to his case as "Zacarias Moussaoui, Muslim vs. U.S., Godless Government."

"The U.S. has orchestrated the greatest propaganda machine to convince their citizens and the world that I am the 20th hijacker," Moussaoui wrote.

The indictment alleges Moussaoui underwent military training in al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan in 1998, attended U.S. flight schools in 2001, and received money from the same overseas funding source as the hijackers.

"Bring your proof, liars," Moussaoui wrote.

Moussaoui continues to argue his belief that the government knows he was not connected to the September 11 plot, because, he claims, the FBI was spying on him after he entered the United States in February 2001 and enrolled at a Norman, Oklahoma, flight school.

Prosecutors this week unequivocally stated in a court filing that view was wrong -- that the U.S. government did not have Moussaoui or any of the 19 hijackers under surveillance in the United States last year.

"Stop playing Clinton game of lies," Moussaoui wrote in response. Pointing to the widely reported clues missed by the FBI and CIA, Moussaoui wrote that "the FBI was facilitating the movement of the 19 hijackers in and out of the country" and knew he wasn't one of them. He said his arrest last August in Minnesota had "no risk to alert them."

"They are trying to kill me as a scapegoat for September 11. They want my death to cover up for their participation in September 11," he wrote.

Moussaoui suggested in a earlier motion that the U.S. government "cynically allow September 11 in order to destroy Afghanistan."

In reviewing what was known about the hijackers before September 11, Moussaoui referred to ringleader Mohamed Atta, saying, "May Allah have mercy on him," Moussaoui wrote. He previously praised terrorist leader Osama bin Laden as "my father in jihad."

Charles Freeman
Charles Freeman  

Moussaoui petitioned to speak to the media, which is not allowed under SAMS, and to testify before Congress, which Brinkema denied Wednesday by noting "federal courts do not advise the United States Congress as to whom it should call as witnesses at hearings." She forwarded his request to Capitol Hill.

Moussaoui reiterated his desire to see a Muslim attorney from Houston, Charles Freeman, who has met him in jail and given him legal advice.

"Brother Freeman is the only person that helps me to defend my life," Moussaoui wrote. Brinkema has barred him from the visiting the Alexandria jail because he has not registered his appearance with the court. Freeman is not licensed in Virginia and would need to find a local lawyer admitted to the state bar to sponsor him to join the case.

The latest Moussaoui motions reveal what seems to be new personal information -- that the defendant was engaged to be married in England before he came to the United States, and that he drive a Ford Taurus while in America; he told the court he would like the car tested for a tracking device.

-- CNN's Laura Bernardini contributed to this story.




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