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Final Arguments Heard in Moussaoui Case


The fate of confessed terror conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui is now in the hands of a jury in a federal courtroom in northern Virginia. Lawyers for the prosecution and defense made closing arguments Monday in the death penalty trial of the only person charged and convicted in connection with the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States.

Moussaoui pled guilty last year to terror conspiracy charges, so the jury in the case must now decide whether he should be put to death or sentenced to life in prison.

Prosecutor David Raskin argued for the death penalty. In his words, "There is no place on this good Earth for Zacarias Moussaoui." He added, "Enough is enough, it is time to put an end to this hatred and venom."

Defense attorney Gerald Zerkin pleaded with the jury to send his client to prison for life. Zerkin said Moussaoui deserves what he called the long slow death of a common criminal rather than the martyrdom he is seeking through execution.

During a break in the proceedings, Moussaoui said out loud, "You will never get me, America," in keeping with his pattern of frequent outbursts during the trial.

It will require a unanimous vote of the 12-member federal jury to sentence Moussaoui to death.

The jury deliberation stage in the penalty phase of the trial comes after weeks of testimony by relatives who lost loved ones in the 9-11 attacks.

Dozens of witnesses testified on behalf of the prosecution about the emotional toll of the deaths of family members in the years since the September 11 attacks.

In addition, prosecutors played audiotapes from United Flight 93, one of four jets hijacked by terrorists on September 11. The tapes depicted an uprising among passengers and a struggle with the hijackers that forced the plane to crash into a field in Pennsylvania.

About a dozen other family members of 9-11 victims chose to testify on behalf of the defense and said they were not seeking vengeance in the trial.

Many of the 9-11 family members have spoken about the emotional toll of testifying and watching the trial proceedings for the past several weeks.

Stephanie Holland-Brodney's mother, Cora Holland, was aboard one of the hijacked planes that crashed into the World Trade Center in New York.

"This was just another chapter in a huge book of disappointment," she said. "I didn't come away feeling satisfied at all from this entire process."

Moussaoui has confessed his membership in al-Qaida and often mocked the testimony of distraught family members who spoke about lost loved ones.

Prosecutors have cited the mocking comments as proof of Moussaoui's lack of remorse about the attacks.

Moussaoui has refused to cooperate with his defense team. His lawyers have tried to portray him as mentally unstable and not trusted even by other members of al-Qaida.

Moussaoui was arrested three weeks before the 9-11 attacks in Minnesota. Prosecutors say his lies while in custody prevented the government from possibly preventing the attacks.

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