Moussaoui May Admit Crime, Face Death Penalty


Zacarias Moussaoui could plead guilty as early as this week to a role in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks if a judge finds him mentally competent, reports the Washington Post. Moussaoui’s plan to plead guilty comes over his attorneys’ objections. The French citizen, the only person charged in the United States in the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, tried to plead guilty in 2002, claiming an intimate knowledge of the plane hijackings. He rescinded his plea a week later. His mental state has been an issue ever since; Judge Leonie M. Brinkema is scheduled to meet with him to determine if he has the mental capacity to enter a plea. If Brinkema accepts a plea, she would probably set a death penalty trial, at which jurors would decide if Moussaoui should be executed.

Moussaoui’s trial has been delayed three times. Michael Greenberger, a University of Maryland law professor and former high-level Justice Department official, said Moussaoui “certainly has acted in a bizarre fashion that heads you in the direction of questioning his competence, but I think there is room here for a finding that he does understand what is going on and can make judgments on his own and is therefore competent.”


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