Sept. 11 Suspect May Question Witness

A federal appeals court declined for the second time Thursday to decide whether the government can deny accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui the right to question a senior al-Qaida leader without jeopardizing his right to a fair trial.

A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va., ruled that the government was premature in its appeal of the trial judge’s order allowing Moussaoui to question Sept. 11 organizer Ramzi Binalshibh through a remote video hookup. Moussaoui claims Binalshibh, who is in U.S. custody, will back up his contention that he was not involved in Sept. 11. The judges said U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema’s order cannot be appealed “unless and until the government refuses to comply and the district court imposes a sanction.” It is not enough, they said, that the government has indicated it will refuse to produce Binalshibh for questioning under any circumstances. Earlier this year, the appeals court sent the appeal back to Brinkema with instructions to determine whether a compromise could be fashioned to protect Moussaoui’s right to a fair trial while satisfying the government concerns about national security. Full Story

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