Skip to comments.Germany Delays 9/11 Verdict, New Witness Found
Posted on 01/21/2004 9:18:50 AM PST by knighthawk
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German court postponed on Wednesday the verdict on a Moroccan accused of aiding the Sept. 11 attackers after prosecutors said they had found a new witness, casting doubt on his expected acquittal.
The Hamburg court where Abdelghani Mzoudi is on trial said that the verdict would not now be issued Thursday as expected after a request from prosecutors to hear evidence from two police officials about a new witness.
"Federal prosecutors sent to the court today a substantial transcript dated January 19 regarding the questioning of a witness whose reliability is guaranteed and who would incriminate the accused Mzoudi," the court said in a statement.
Mzoudi, 31, had been expected to be cleared of the charge of several thousand counts of aiding and abetting murder and membership of a terrorist organization after he was released from custody in a surprise move last month.
His release came after German investigators informed the court of secret testimony which the trial judge presumed to have come from key al Qaeda figure Ramzi bin al-Shaibah who is now in U.S. custody.
That testimony suggested the Moroccan did not belong to the core group of plotters based in Hamburg -- an al Qaeda cell said to have been instrumental in the 2001 attacks on America.
The United States has shared details of bin al-Shaibah's testimony with Germany, but has been unwilling to allow it be released to a court.
Independent lawyers had said it appeared very likely that Mzoudi, whose trial has continued, would be acquitted.
However, prosecutors are now seeking a 30-day break for judges to assess the credibility of the new witness. The court will hear new information from two police officers and a federal prosecutor Thursday. Neither the court nor defense lawyers gave any details about the new witness.
Mzoudi's trial is only the second of a suspected Sept. 11 plotter. Last year the same court sentenced another Moroccan, Mounir El Motassadeq, to 15 years in jail on similar charges.
His lawyers were expecting to hear the results of an appeal, which could lead to a retrial, next week. They say that the new evidence that led to Mzoudi's release should lead to a review of Motassadeq's conviction.
U.S. Attorney-General John Ashcroft and lawyers representing the relatives of September 11 victims have described the freeing of Mzoudi as disappointing.
I wished I had seen the ping earlier.
I'm unclear why it's important for the actual guy on trial.
According to these latest articles, the German prosecuters have a circumstantial case against Mzoudi as accomplice to murder re: 9/11, but one that isn't complete.
Most observers were ready for an acquittal before this witness's testimony was entered as evidence at the very last moment.
This new testimony tidies up the prosecuter's case in that it represents the combining link in the other seemingly unrelated pieces of evidence the prosecuters had.
Mzoudi was the messenger between the organizers, the middlemen and the perpertrators. Mzoudi knew the codes. Without Zakeri's testimony it would appear Mzoudi knew the other parties, but there was no evidence that he knew them for the specific pupose of planning the 9/11 attacks.
This seems to be getting 'curiouser and curiouser', doesn't it?
These are some points I find pertinent from skimming over several articles from different German sites:
The issue of Zakeri's, a pseudonym [Deckname], from what I've read, demanding payment is casting doubt on his credibility. I've read he asked for 1.2 million when he went to the U.S. embassy in Azerbian in 2001. The German reports vary, some say he wants money in return for giving out more information in this case, others say he he's only concerned about living expenses.
The article aristeides pinged me to says Zakeri is a publicity hound. He had been giving reports on both Arabic and Western TV saying Iran wasn't involved, then suddenly told "Insight" magazine in the summer of 2003 that he had known of the 9/11 plots.
The German prosecuter who is interviewing Zakeri, Jost, is saying that Zakeri was able to accurately describe the particulars of the Mykonos bombing in Berlin in 1992, in which 4 Iranian opposition figures were killed. Jost presents this as a corroboration of Zakeri's credibility.
Jost is saying that Zakeri's ID in the Iranian secret service, "N-941-H", checks out (Thus the explanation of the article's title).
Zakeri was known by the CIA, according to Zakeri's own admission. Zakeri says the CIA used him while he was still in service in Iran. German and French information services knew of him as well. This is a dead end for the courts, the article says, because those agencies are and will continue to be mum regarding their sources.
The German court is concerned, anyway, since these revelations by German prosecuter Jost has opened up a great deal of highly confidential information from the inner workings of the usually strictly confidential German secret service to public scrutiny.
Jost, to further complicate matters, didn't refer any of Zakeri's testimany to the German authorities responsible for collecting 9/11 information. Zakeri became known to the 9/11 agency only through happenchance when a member of 9/11 was present during a questioning session. Jost claims he didn't think about having to inform the 9/11 people. The judge isn't buying Jost's explanation.
The judge wants to hear Zakeri's testimony himself next Thursday.
It goes to show how thick-skinned we FReepers are, where your notice doesn't get much notice. I checked with my sources at the Pentagon, and they deny that they are denying any alleged capture of OBL, or UBL, or ElvisBL.
It's a nice thought, though. Don't give up; we are all hoping it will play out eventually this year. Perhaps Dubya himself will discover Osama hiding in a "spider-hole" on the back lawn of the White House. Of course, to make it complete, ol' Dubya will be in his cowboy boots, taking a leak on the lawn when he notices the liquid disappearing into a crack in the lawn. He pries open the trapdoor, sees OBL, drenched and crouching in a sinister fashion as he mixes up a new batch of anthrax while dialing up Al-Jazeera on his super-secret camel-powered phone... (I can't go on; it's too...stupid.)
To be honest, though, one of your links says the German media has reported Zakeri has talked of meeting with the Ayatollahs et al., but I haven't seen that written anywhere on German sites. If someone has, please ping me.
Of course, I don't presume to look at everything. That is a major statement, though, and I would think "Spiegel" and Co. would have picked up on it.
I've seen some reporting that the German and US intelligence guys weren't very cooperative with the trial. Also that they wanted Mzoudi to walk in December in the hope he'd make a bee-line to his terrorist friends.
This new info was sprung on the eve of Mzoudi's probable acquital, by an German intelligence guy (Jost) who wasn't too interested in letting the new German agency for 9/11 investigations know about the big fish he had on the line.
This is conjecture on my part, of course, but there seems to be a big undercurrent around this issue. The German sights I watch are tip-toeing around this AFAIC. The story isn't front page anymore, either.
That will probably change thursday when the judge questions him.
The "Spiegel" article is today's, "Die Welt"'s was datelined yesterday.
The surprise witness for the prosecution in the Hamburg Qaida trial is considered unreliable by federal government security experts. The former Iranian agent with the assumed names "Toni" and "Hamid Reza Zakeri" had already had contact with the Federal Intelligence Agency [BND, lj] in 2002, however, after extensive interrogation had been classified in most areas as not credible. In testimony to officials of the Federal Intelligence Agency shortly before the end of the Hamburg trial he had charged accused terror accomplice Abdelghani Mzoudi of having supported the assassins of September 11th as a logistician . In addition, the witness claimed Iranian authorities were informed of the attacks up front. Because of his statement, Mzoudi's verdict, planned for last Thursday, was postponed.
© DER SPIEGEL 5/2004
Terror process: State's attorney held back information
An alleged secret agent made statements about September 11th in October 2003 - credibility of the Iranian shall be checked
by Claus Hornung
German federal lawyers have passed on information about the attacks of September 11th, which they have known about since October 2003, until only just before the planned pronouncement of judgement. The State's Attorney, Bruno Jost, explained on Thursday before the Hanseatic Higher Regional Court that an alleged former Iranian secret agent had already claimed in October 2003 to be able to make statements about the attacks on the World Trade Center.
The man, who uses the cover name Hamed Reza Zakiri, was interrogated by Jost in connection with the murder of Iranian-Kurdish opposition figures in 1992 in the Berlin restaurant "Mykonos". On the objection of the angered presiding judge, Klaus Rühle, why this hadn't been passed on, Jost explained he hadn't seen any cause to. He deals exclusively with the Mykonos case. Only when Zakiri mentioned at lunch last week that Al Qaida plans to murder, the in Hamburg accused, Abdelghani Mzoudi, Jost got the Federal Criminal Investigation Agency (BKA) involved, who, in turn, informed the Hamburg court.
Since Zakiri has been assured confidentiality, two BKA officials testified about Monday's Zakiri interrogation before the court yesterday. In it they explained that Mzoudi, who is on trial for abetting in the murder of thousands and the membership in a terrorist organisation, coordinated the communication between the backers of September 11th. This had been admitted to in an e-mail from an Iranian secret service agent in December 2003 that had been passed on to Zakiri. After Mzoudi had been released from custody in December following anonymous exonerating testimony, Al Qaida had decided to liquidate him.
Zakiri, himself, claims to have seen a document from Al Qaida in Teheran in the summer of 2001, which spoke of actions in the USA which could provoke retaliation. In the same year, Zakiri claims to have fled from Iran because he was afraid that his eight-year employment as double agent for the CIA would be exposed. The USA still owed him 1.2 million dollars for his work. After his flight the American authorities didn't want to help him, however.
The BKA officials Andy N. and Thorsten W. didn't want give any opinions of Zakiri's credibility after repeated requests from Rühle and the defense. "We simply asked our questions in an unbiased manner."
According to officials, Zakiri has not made any direct financial demands, but made any further statements dependent on the 'securing of his livelihood'. Mzoudi's defenders pointed out that Zakiri had already told parts of his story to a Saudi-Arabian newspaper in February, 2003. In the report a CIA employee is also quoted, who describes Zakiri as a "monumental fairy tale teller". At the next trial date on January 29th, the court wants to question Zakiri personally. State's attorney Walter Hemberger stated, because of the assured confidentiality, this can be considered only "as a wish", however.
Artikel erschienen am 23. Jan 2004
Translated by longjack
I also keep forgetting the "Die Welt" link requires a login. Registration is free, you do have to enter a valid e-mail address for verification, though.
I managed to find a report "Spiegel" took from AP about Zakeri's testimony today.
It appears to have been a complete joke. He showed up with beard, sunglasses and beard, repeated all the things that we've reported about thus far, but had zero, if not negative impact.
The judge couldn't understand a word he said, none of his sources were concrete, all hearsay, and no statements could be verified and were classified as speculative.
One sentance in the report said Zakeri maintains he had contacts with many western intelligence services, but became insulted and broke off contact when money was offered. He also knew everything about anything anybody wanted to know when it would have created an advantage for him personally, according to the report.
As the title of the link says, this one backfired.
Mzoudi will walk, verdict is next week.
Here's the link in German, I can't translate it now.