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Moussaoui attorneys ask court to bar U.S. from seeking death penalty

Zacarias Moussaoui  

From Kevin Bohn

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Attorneys for terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui are asking the U.S. District Court to bar the government from seeking the death penalty.

Attorney General John Ashcroft announced last month the government's intention to pursue the death penalty if Moussaoui -- the only person charged in connection with the September 11 attacks -- is found guilty.

Four of the charges of conspiracy Moussaoui faces carry a possible death penalty.

"When all is said and done, the government wants to execute someone so badly for the events of September 11 that, because no one else is available, it is willing to ignore the plain requirements of the law to make Moussaoui death-eligible not based on anything he actually did, but on what it insists he wanted to do," the motion by Moussaoui's defense attorneys filed in U.S. District Court on Thursday said.

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"None of the 'acts" Moussaoui is alleged to have committed, as set forth in the indictment or the Notice, including joining the conspiracies alleged, can be said to have directly caused the death of any victims, as required by the statute," Frank Dunham, Moussaoui's attorney, further argued in the motion.

He also said it was "improper to allow the government to rely on the allegation that Moussaoui joined the conspiracy as the 'act' upon which his death penalty is based."

The defense team cited previous rulings in which the Supreme Court ruled participation in a felony or a violent act by the defendant in death penalty applicable offenses are some of the requirements necessary for it to be applied.

The motion also argues there is no direct connection between Moussaoui and the 19 hijackers and the September 11 attacks.

"It simply cannot be said that Moussaoui's alleged joining of the conspiracies alleged in the indictment to commit the attacks of September 11th directly resulted in that attack and the deaths of any victim of that attack."




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