A federal appeals court on Thursday restored the government’s full case against Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person charged in an American court with conspiring in the Sept. 11 attacks, and allowed prosecutors once again to seek the death penalty, the New York Times reports
At the same time, the three-judge appeals panel, in Richmond, Va., backed defense lawyers in their argument that Moussaoui is entitled to introduce testimony from captured members of Al Qaeda who have told interrogators overseas that he had nothing to do with the plot.
The panel, drawn from members of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, ordered the trial judge to work out a compromise on the issue that has long threatened to derail the case: how to grant Moussaoui access to information from the captured Qaeda members while preserving the government’s rights to interrogate enemy combatants without interruption during wartime.
The long-awaited decision overruled important elements of a ruling last October by the trial judge, Leonie M. Brinkema of Federal District Court in Alexandria, Va. Brinkema, who had barred the use of the death penalty and blocked prosecutors from preventing evidence to a jury that might link Moussaoui to the Sept. 11 attacks.
In that decision, she described Moussaoui as a “remote or minor participant” in the terrorist network’s plans for attacks in the United States and said it would be unfair to allow prosecutors to try to connect Moussaoui to the Sept. 11 plot if he was denied access to witnesses who helped plan the attacks.