April 24, 2006

Jury to decide if Moussaoui sentenced to death

By Deborah Charles

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (Reuters) - A U.S. attorney told the
jury considering the fate of Zacarias Moussaoui on Monday that
after weeks of heart-wrenching testimony it was time to
sentence the September 11 conspirator to death.

"Let me be blunt, ladies and gentlemen," said prosecutor
David Raskin. "There is no place on this good Earth for
Zacarias Moussaoui."

Raskin presented his closing arguments for the jury to
return a death sentence. He was followed by defense attorneys
who argued Moussaoui, 37, an admitted al Qaeda follower, should
be given life in prison.

The jury, which is only deciding the sentencing since
Moussaoui has pleaded guilty to six conspiracy counts relating
the September 11 plot, was expected to begin deliberations on
Monday afternoon.

As the jury left for a morning break, Moussaoui said,
"You'll never get me, America. Never ever."

Raskin said Moussaoui was pleased with his role in the plot
and was "elated that al Qaeda murdered 2,972 innocent people on
September 11."

"Enough is enough," Raskin said. "It is time to put an end
to his hatred and venom. It is time to sentence Zacarias
Moussaoui to death."

Raskin dismissed what he knew would be part of the defense
arguments that Moussaoui was mentally ill and was just an al
Qaeda hanger-on rather than a major figure.

"You know this is an important decision," the attorney
said. "But ladies and gentlemen, your decision in this case is
not a close call."

The 12-person jury must be unanimous in order to sentence
Moussaoui to death.

The same jury has already decided that Moussaoui was
eligible for the death penalty. The jury agreed with government
arguments that Moussaoui's lies when he was arrested three
weeks before the attacks led to the deaths of nearly 3,000
people on September 11.


The jury will consider evidence presented during two weeks
of testimony by survivors and family members of victims of the
deadly hijackings.

Several dozen witnesses, many of them sobbing, came forward
for the prosecution to tell harrowing tales of their escape
from burning buildings or to talk of how much they missed loved
ones who died on September 11, 2001.

About a dozen more family members of September 11 victims
testified for the defense. Though they were not able to
directly say whether they thought Moussaoui should be put to
death, most said they did not think vengeance was the proper

Moussaoui testified in each of the two phases of the trial.
He contradicted previous statements by saying he was meant to
pilot a fifth plane into the White House as part of the
hijacking plot. In his second round of testimony, Moussaoui
said he had no remorse for the September 11 attacks and said he
wished more Americans could have suffered.