May 4, 2006

Paris may seek Moussaoui transfer to France

PARIS (Reuters) - France may ask the United States to allow
September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui to serve his life
prison sentence in a French jail, the Foreign Ministry said on

Moussaoui, a 37-year old French citizen of Moroccan origin,
was sentenced on Thursday to life in prison with no possibility
of release, a day after a jury spared his life and rejected
U.S. government arguments that he should be executed.

France and the United States signed two agreements in the
1980s about the transfer of convicts. Moussaoui's mother and
his lawyer want him to be allowed to serve his sentence in

"A possible demand for transferring Zacarias Moussaoui
could be looked at within this framework," Foreign Ministry
spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said at an electronic press

"But in any case, we have to wait for the American justice
system to provide a definitive sentence and to define the
conditions of the sentence," he added.

Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy later said in a
statement that he had instructed the French embassy in
Washington to "remain very attentive to the situation of
Zacarias Moussaoui."

He made no comment about the verdict and did not mention
the possibility of repatriating him.

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales declined to say
whether Moussaoui could be extradited to France.

"I don't think it's appropriate at this time to comment on
that," he told a news conference in Vienna on Thursday after
talks with European Union and Russian counterparts on security

"Obviously there's been no formal request made, and with
respect to a request by the French government, we would of
course consider it at that time," he said.

The jury found Moussaoui's actions had not resulted in the
deaths of about 3,000 people on September 11 -- a central part
of the government's argument that he should face the death

Moussaoui's mother, Aisha el Wafi, said her son would be
living like a "rat in a hole" and accused France of siding with
the United States during the trial.

"I feel there is a part of me that is dead, buried with my
son who will be buried for the rest of his life at the age of
37 for things he hasn't done," she told a news conference in

"The whole world knows it now. France knows it too but
France prefers to please the Americans anyway."

France provided information about Moussaoui to the United
States on condition that it could not be used in a sentence
leading to the death penalty, which it opposes.

(Additional reporting by Ingrid Melander in Vienna)