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Lawyers battle over witness access for September 11 defendant

Lawyers for Zacarias Moussaoui, charged in connection with the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, and the US government resumed their battle over whether a suspected al-Qaeda member can be questioned. The result of the showdown should decide whether the 34-year-old Frenchman goes to trial or not over his role in the attacks with hijacked airliners on the United States. At the moment his trial has been postponed indefinitely and the authorities have indicated the hearings could be moved to a military tribunal. Moussaoui, who is carrying out his own defense even though he faces the death penalty, wants to question Ramzi bin al-Shaiba, detained by the US authorities as one of the accused mastermind of the attacks. A federal judge in Alexandria, Virginia, near Washington, granted court-appointed lawyers for Moussaoui permission to question Shaiba. But the US government has strongly argued against the plea in an appeal. In a motion, which was partly declassified and released Wednesday, the government argued that “aliens seized and detained overseas as enemy combatants are beyond the authority of the federal courts.” Full Story

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