The retrial of Mounir el Motassadeq takes an unexpected turn as the US releases testimony from an al Qaeda captive who says the suspect knew nothing of the attack plans. But prosecutors have their doubts.
The Hamburg higher adminstrative court hearing the retrial of the first man convicted in Germany of ties to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks received a bombshell fax from the US Justice Department on Wednesday.
The fax contained summaries of three detainees’ interrogations, including the testimony of Ramzi Binalshibh, the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks. Many observers have long believed that testimony from Binalshibh could provide the key to a final verdict in the case.
Only this time, it could help suspect Motassadeq rather than the prosecution.
According to the summary read out in the court room by presiding judge Ernst-Rainer Schudt, Motassadeq — who is on trial for aiding the Hamburg-based Sept. 11 suicide pilots Mohammed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah — had no idea of the terrorist plot.
A blow for prosecutors?
“We have to think about the consequences of this,” Schudt said.
After the surprising development on Wednesday, Motassadeq’s defense attorneys — who only one day earlier claimed any testimony from Binalshibh or Mohammed would be unreliable because they had likely been tortured or forced into giving testimony by US intelligence agents –seemed pleased with the apparently exculpatory evidence.
“I think it’s going to result in an acquittal,” said attorney Josef GrÃ¤ssle-MÃ¼nscher.