Fourth Circuit upholds Moussaoui life sentence

The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit Jan. 4 upheld the conviction and life sentence of accused 9-11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui. Moussaoui’s lawyers had requested that his guilty plea and be withdrawn and a new trial be granted, arguing that his plea was involuntary due to Fifth and Sixth Amendment violations. They also argued that his unawareness of the charges against him violated Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and that his trial counsel did not have access to statements made by al-Qaeda members denying Moussaoui’s involvement in the 9-11 conspiracy. The appeals court rejected all of those arguments and “affirm[ed] Moussaoui’s convictions and sentences in their entirety.”

The appeals court ordered new arguments in the case in July due to the retirement of Chief Judge Karen Williams, who heard oral arguments last January. Moussaoui’s lawyers appealed his conviction in January 2008. He received a life sentence after pleading guilty to six conspiracy charges in connection with the 9-11 attacks, including conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to destroy aircraft, and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. He avoided the death penalty due to one juror’s refusal to agree to it. (Jurist, Jan. 4)

See our last post on the 9-11 case.

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