Motassadeq to Appeal as Judge Gives Maximum Sentence
A German court has sentenced Moroccan student Mounir al-Motassadeq to 15 years in prison for helping the September 11 suicide pilots plan their attack. The final day of the trial turned into an emotional courtroom battle worthy of Hollywood. The saga may not be over as his legal team plans to appeal.[notes in square brackets are mine]
The Moroccan student had been convicted in November for knowingly helping the [purported] hijackers. It was found that he had covered up their flight training and had wired them money as they prepared for the attack in the United States. The trial that ended Monday was merely to determine how much time the Moroccan would spend behind bars.Matthias Gebauer describes the "Hollywood drama" for Der Spiegel:
A tearful Dominic Puopolo, an American whose mother was sitting in seat 3J on the plane Mohammad Atta [supposedly] flew into the World Trade Center, pleaded for the highest possible penalty.And of course all the details are fuzzy because somebody doesn't want somebody else to testify:
"You have a chance to rebuild your life and be back with your family (after serving out his sentence). Others don't," Puopolo said in a statement meant for Motassadeq. "Your life is not over, but my mom's is." He said he wanted justice rather than revenge.
Puopolo has been following the trial against Motassadeq for years and struggled to stifle tears as he spoke. He described in detail how the Sept. 11 attacks destroyed his family. "We still suffer from the events of that day and will do so for many years to come," he said. "And this man is responsible, even if he was only indirectly involved in the planning."
Motassadeq, for his part, addressed Puopolo directly for the first time. "Mr. Puopolo, I understand your suffering," he stammered, his voice nearly breaking. "The same thing is being done to me, my kids, my parents, my family. My future is ruined." He then attacked prosecutor Walter Hemberger. The prosecutor, Motassadeq said, had twisted the facts and was never really interested in the truth. "For you," Motassadeq said raising his voice, "it was a game, and now you have won."
He insisted that he was innocent and was adamant that he had neither been in a position of leadership within the Hamburg cell nor did he assist Atta and two other [alleged] suicide pilots Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah, all of whom lived and studied in Hamburg. He did nothing, he said, that was out of the ordinary and had not known what his friends were planning to do. He insisted that, appearances notwithstanding, he had never "belonged to any group."
Motassadeq, who was first tried in 2003, was a close friend of Mohammed Atta, the ring-leader of the Hamburg terror cell that [allegedly] carried out the plot. A Hamburg court convicted the now 32-year-old on charges of membership in the terror cell and being an accessory to murder and sentenced him to 15 years in prison. But the case was overturned by the Federal Court of Justice because United States authorities refused to release classified transcripts of interrogations of suspected 9/11 accomplices Ramzi Binalshibh and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that could have provided exculpatory statements about Motassadeq. Washington refused to permit either to testify in earlier cases.The people who know what happened are not allowed to talk, and that keeps the people who don't know what happened in the dark. And of course people are afraid of the dark. And frightened people are easy to manipulate. So keeping them in the dark is a good way to manipulate them. Isn't it?
And it's easy to tell who the terrorists are, because only a terrorist would say things like "they're twisting the facts!" or "they're not interested in the truth".
No, I'm not cynical!