- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 26, 2002

A federal judge yesterday entered a plea of not guilty for terrorism suspect Zacarias Moussaoui, the French Moroccan named as a conspirator in the September 11 attacks on America.
U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema entered the plea during a hearing at the federal courthouse in Alexandria on a revised indictment in the pending case after Moussaoui, 34, refused to recognize the court's authority.
Moussaoui refused earlier this year and again yesterday "in the name of Allah" to enter a plea and has since fired his three court-appointed attorneys, saying they conspired with government prosecutors to guarantee his execution.
Judge Brinkema has ruled he is mentally competent to represent himself in the case, but only with assistance from a "stand-by" counsel.
"I'm the only one to defend myself. You just prepare me to the gas chamber," Moussaoui told the judge. "This is a parody of justice. I do not accept this plea of not guilty. I have no plea. I will plead no contest. I have nothing to say to the United States. That's all."
The revised indictment, returned last week, alters the language in the pending charges and drops wording that Moussaoui sought information about crop-dusting aircraft for possible terror attacks.
Moussaoui also told the judge he would not see the newly appointed "stand-by" counsel, Alan Yamamoto, and wanted a Muslim attorney, Charles Freeman of Houston, who is said to have offered his services free of charge.
Judge Brinkema denied the request and ordered Mr. Freeman to present himself before the court by Friday if he plans to participate in the case. Until that occurs, he is barred by court rules from acting on Moussaoui's behalf. He was at the courthouse, but did not participate in the hearing.
The judge also denied a separate motion by Moussaoui that the trial be moved to Denver. He said he could not obtain a fair trial because of the close proximity of the Pentagon, one of the targets in the September 11 attacks.
Moussaoui was indicted Dec. 11 by a federal grand jury in Alexandria on six counts of plotting with Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist network to murder thousands of people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He was arrested a month before the September 11 attacks.
According to the indictment, Moussaoui underwent flight training in the United States and weapons training at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan, like many of the 19 hijackers.
U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty said the government would seek the death penalty for Moussaoui, saying in court papers he deserved to die for conspiracy in the September 11 attacks that saw "the largest loss of life resulting from a criminal act in the history of the United States."

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