ALEXANDRIA, Va, Apr 19 (Reuters) September. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is a paranoid schizophrenic who suffers from delusions that President George W. Bush will set him free in the next two years, a psychologist testified.
Xavier Amador, an expert in schizophrenia, yesterday told a jury considering the death penalty for Moussaoui that he reached his diagnosis after conducting dozens of interviews and reading numerous court pleadings Moussaoui has filed since 2002.
Amador said his diagnosis was confirmed after a combative one-hour interview with Moussaoui in 2004 and after hearing two recent rounds of sensational testimony in court during the sentencing trial.
Moussaoui, the only person charged in the United States in connection with the September. 11 attacks, has pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy in connection with the hijackings. His lawyers are trying to convince the 12-person jury not to sentence him to death but instead to life in prison.
One of their key arguments is that Moussaoui is mentally ill.
Amador, who said Moussaoui had rebuffed many requests for an interview over the past few years, gave a detailed description of his one personal encounter with Moussaoui in June 2004.
Amador said he stood outside a holding cell in the courthouse while Moussaoui spat water on him at least a dozen times, before he finally calmed down.
DREAM OF BUSH He said Moussaoui then exhibited some classic schizophrenic symptoms, including a rapid change in emotions and an inability to process information. Moussaoui also told Amador he had a dream that Bush would pardon him before his term ends and allow him to leave the country.
Amador said Moussaoui has told him that he was ''100 per cent sure'' he would be freed by Bush. Amador said he had spoken to several jail guards who said Moussaoui repeats the dream and the claim he will be freed nearly every day.
''The grandiosity and arrogance to say 'I know this is going to happen'... this is a delusional and psychotic belief,'' Amador said.
Moussaoui spoke of the dream during recent testimony. He also contradicted previous statements that he was not involved in September. 11 by saying he was due to pilot an airplane into the White House as part of the plot.
Amador said the testimony confirmed Moussaoui's schizophrenia. It also showed that Moussaoui, like many with the illness, has periods without symptoms and also tries to mask the disease.
''Moussaoui is highly motivated to appear normal,'' said Amador.
Moussaoui has dismissed defense lawyers' efforts to portray him as mentally ill.
''He is absolutely, deeply committed to presenting himself as someone who does not have a mental illness like others in his family,'' Amador said. Moussaoui's father and two sisters have been diagnosed with schizophrenia or similar diseases.
The defense is expected to wrap up its case this week and the jury could begin deliberating by early next week.
REUTERS PG PM0459