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Jury to decide if Moussaoui sentenced to death

Written by: Staff
|

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Apr 24 (Reuters) A US attorney told the jury considering the fate of Zacarias Moussaoui today that after weeks of heart-wrenching testimony it was time to sentence the September 11 conspirator to death.

''Let me be blunt, ladies and gentlemen,'' said prosecutor David Raskin. ''There is no place on this good Earth for Zacarias Moussaoui.'' Raskin presented his closing arguments for the jury to return a death sentence. He was followed by defense attorneys who argued Moussaoui, 37, an admitted al Qaeda follower, should be given life in prison.

The jury, which is only deciding the sentencing since Moussaoui has pleaded guilty to six conspiracy counts relating the September 11 plot, was expected to begin deliberations today afternoon.

As the jury left for a morning break, Moussaoui said, ''You'll never get me, America. Never ever.'' Raskin said Moussaoui was pleased with his role in the plot and was ''elated that al Qaeda murdered 2,972 innocent people on September 11.'' ''Enough is enough,'' Raskin said. ''It is time to put an end to his hatred and venom. It is time to sentence Zacarias Moussaoui to death.'' Raskin dismissed what he knew would be part of the defense arguments that Moussaoui was mentally ill and was just an al Qaeda hanger-on rather than a major figure.

''You know this is an important decision,'' the attorney said. ''But ladies and gentlemen, your decision in this case is not a close call.'' The 12-person jury must be unanimous in order to sentence Moussaoui to death.

The same jury has already decided that Moussaoui was eligible for the death penalty. The jury agreed with government arguments that Moussaoui's lies when he was arrested three weeks before the attacks led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people on September 11.

WEIGHING TWO WEEKS OF TESTIMONY The jury will consider evidence presented during two weeks of testimony by survivors and family members of victims of the deadly hijackings.

Several dozen witnesses, many of them sobbing, came forward for the prosecution to tell harrowing tales of their escape from burning buildings or to talk of how much they missed loved ones who died on September 11, 2001.

About a dozen more family members of September 11 victims testified for the defense. Though they were not able to directly say whether they thought Moussaoui should be put to death, most said they did not think vengeance was the proper response.

Moussaoui testified in each of the two phases of the trial.

He contradicted previous statements by saying he was meant to pilot a fifth plane into the White House as part of the hijacking plot. In his second round of testimony, Moussaoui said he had no remorse for the September 11 attacks and said he wished more Americans could have suffered.

REUTERS SHB KP2115

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