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Moussaoui Trial Delayed Until January

Aired August 16, 2002 - 13:01   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: We want to go to Deborah Feyerick, who is following for us the -- now a new motion to delay the trial of alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui.
Deborah Feyerick joins us now on exactly why, Deborah, this delay has, indeed, taken place.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's not so much of a delay, as a postponement, very much within the judge's realm to do that. Both sides actually -- I am sorry -- Moussaoui's legal team and Moussaoui himself had both said that they wanted more time to prepare this case. And the judge, after reviewing the motions, pro and con, decided that, yes, she would give them more time.

So what's going to happen is now this trial is going to start in January, January 6, opening statements. That is later than the original September 30 date, when jury selection was supposed to begin.

Now, the judge, in deciding, issued a statement just moments going, saying: "Although the public's right to a speedy trial is a legitimate concern, this court's paramount concern is ensuring that the defendant receives a fair trial. The volume and complexity of the evidence in this prosecution fully supports the defense request for a brief continuance of the trial date."

Of course, Moussaoui's legal team is thrilled by this. They had asked for an extra 60 days. It turns out now, they're going to get closer to 90 days. That means it will happen after the holidays.

What you are looking at is a picture of some of the evidence, some of the discovery material that has been given by prosecutors to the defense team. The defense team had asked for everything that the government had. The government did oblige. The government not very happy with this, because they said, not all of it is necessary to prepare for trial. And they sort of feel that the defense team now says, well, there is so much, we can't possibly go through it all in a correct amount of time.

Prosecutors, no surprise, they wanted this to happen in September. They said that the public is entitled to a speedy trial. But the judge said, yes, while the public is entitled to that trial, the defense also should have the time to be able to prepare.

And we're talking about a lot of evidence. As a matter of fact, there is something like 1,800 CD-ROMs, 1,800 video and audio tapes that the defense is going to have to look through. Again, Moussaoui is representing himself. So even though he does have standby lawyers who are going through this all of this, for him to look through all of this by himself really is just a mountainous task -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And, Deborah, did those standby lawyers ever want to push for a change of venue, given the proximity to the Pentagon?

FEYERICK: They thought about that. But, no, they never asked to do that. It is in the Virginia court. That's where it was originally moved to, and that's where it is going to stay. They feel that they can get a fair trial, but they did want more time, simply because there is just so much material out there.

WHITFIELD: Great. They seem to have gotten their wish then, more time. So apparently now January.

Thanks very much, Deborah Feyerick, appreciate it.

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