From the Washington Post, with thanks to Anthony:
HAMBURG – After three years of failing to hold anyone accountable for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Germany is preparing to expel accused members of the Hamburg-based cell that led the hijackings and send them to countries with more aggressive records of prosecuting terrorism.
Although two criminal trials are still pending, German officials, legal experts and lawyers involved in the cases said the massive investigation into the al Qaeda cell has been stymied by this country’s lax anti-terrorism laws, unfavorable judicial rulings and a lack of evidence, making it increasingly doubtful that anyone here will be convicted.
The state of affairs is apparent at the judicial complex in Hamburg, where one of the defendants, Mounir Motassadeq, is being tried on more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization. Despite the gravity of the charges, he is a free man, walking alone from his home to the century-old courthouse each morning, unguarded.
Motassadeq was convicted of the charges last year, making him the only person anywhere found guilty of playing a role in the Sept. 11 plot to attack targets in the United States. But he was freed in April, after an appellate court rejected the verdict as based on flimsy evidence and other legal deficiencies.
A retrial began in August and is scheduled to last at least two more months, but the basis of the prosecution’s case has been undermined by its own witnesses, including one whom the presiding judge accused of “fantasizing” during his testimony. Attorneys for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks have filed a civil suit against Motassadeq, in part to prevent him from collecting as much as $50,000 in compensation from the German government for wrongful prosecution if he is acquitted.