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Moussaoui Enters No Plea, Judge Enters "Not Guilty"

Aired January 2, 2002 - 09:37   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LEON HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: 23 minutes away from the top of the hour, right now and we've got breaking news come from Alexandria, Virginia.

Our Deborah Feyerick has been standing by there at the court room where Zacarias Moussaoui was being arraigned just moments ago, and she's got the latest word for us. Deborah?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Leon, Zacarias Moussaoui was in the court room. He was dressed in a one-piece green prison outfit. He stepped up to the microphones, and in a heavy French accent he said, "In the name of Allah, I do not have anything to plea. I enter no plea." He then sat down. The judge said, "I take that as a not guilty plea."

Now, Moussaoui is considered to be the fifth hijacker, the man who was destined to be on the flight that crashed in Pennsylvania, never hitting a target. That was the plane that passengers fought back on. He was taken into custody about a month before the attacks, when a flight instructor at the school where he was taking flying lessons got suspicious and called FBI agents.

Again, Zacarias Moussaoui saying that he entered no plea on this. The trial has been set now for October 14th. And that will take place here in Alexandria, Virginia. The lawyers went through a number of different motions and different hearings and when they were going to set dates. The defense team said that Moussaoui did not need an interpreter. That, in fact, he understood English well enough to just go ahead.

And the defense team actually wanted a trial date that was much farther in the future, in February. But the judge said, "No, we're going to go ahead with the government's request and put that on October 14th."

Now, the mother was not in court. I did speak to the lawyer, her lawyer, on the way in, and he said that she is going to be leaving to return to France tonight. He said that Mrs. Moussaoui did not meet with her son because she disagreed to the terms which had been set. And that is, the terms were that an FBI agent be present and the mother said, "no deal."

The big question is, "Who is Zacarias Moussaoui? What is his role in all of this?" The indictment says that he had links to several of the hijackers, specifically, the suspected ring-leader, Mohammed Atta, saying the men were at the same places, albeit at different times. Moussaoui also is has a connection to the suspected shoe bomber Richard Reid. It is believed that they prayed together at the same London mosque.

Leon, back to you.

HARRIS: Deborah, real quick. You say that his mother was not there, Moussaoui's mother was not there at this -- at this plea hearing. Was there anyone there in support of him, showing up on his side of the court at all?

FEYERICK: No. Her lawyer was in the court room, the defense team was there. But otherwise, we did not spot anybody else in the court room who would have been there in support of him. Clearly, the court room was just jam packed with a lot of different media people. But otherwise, no, you had three defense lawyers, three prosecutors and then an entire back court room filled with journalists.

HARRIS: Yeah, that's no surprise. Deborah Feyerick, thank you very much. Good job there in Alexandria, Virginia, bringing us the breaking news, there. Trial date now set for Zacarias Moussaoui for October 14th. Of course, you know we will be covering that right here on CNN.

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