- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 8, 2002

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty yesterday said accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui is competent to waive counsel and represent himself in his pending trial in connection to the September 11 attacks on America.
"There is no need for the defendant to be transferred for further psychiatric testing or observation, and the court should not do so," Mr. McNulty said in documents filed in U.S. District Court in Alexandria.
"Accordingly, the United States respectfully requests that the court find the defendant competent and then conduct an extensive hearing during which the court can decide whether the defendant knowingly and voluntarily waives his right to be represented by counsel," he said.
Moussaoui, the only person charged in the September 11 attacks, said during an April 22 court hearing he wanted to fire his defense attorneys. He told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema that prosecutors and his own attorneys were government employees who were conspiring to guarantee his execution.
"What they've done is a sophisticated version of the kiss of death," Moussaoui said in a surprising statement as the hearing began. "The United States will not have a trial without me. They only need me for the gas chamber."
Judge Brinkema refused to fire Moussaoui's attorneys but ordered a mental examination to determine whether he was capable of defending himself. She said Moussaoui needed competent counsel present in the courtroom.
The judge has set a June 13 hearing to determine Moussaoui's competency.
Mr. McNulty announced in March that the government would seek the death penalty for Moussaoui. In court papers, he said Moussaoui 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."
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.
Named as unindicted co-conspirators were bin Laden and the 19 dead hijackers, who crashed four fuel-laden jetliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a Pennsylvania field.
The court appointed psychiatrist Dr. Raymond Patterson to evaluate Moussaoui to ensure he was competent to waive his right to counsel. In a report, Dr. Patterson who had a two-hour interview with Moussaoui found that the accused terrorist did not appear to have a "major mental disease or defect."
In reaching that conclusion, Dr. Patterson also considered documents filed in this case, including pleadings by Moussaoui; a transcript of his statements during the April 22 hearing; and records from prisons where he had been held, including two videos showing his removal from cells by correctional officials.
The psychiatrist also interviewed staff from the Alexandria Detention Center who have had daily contact with Moussaoui.
Mr. McNulty told the court there was "an ample record on which to find the defendant competent, and the court should do so." He said there was no evidence to suggest that Moussaoui did not meet the definition of competence outlined in federal law.
"There is no evidence that Moussaoui is suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him incompetent to stand trial or waive counsel," he said.
Mr. McNulty said Moussaoui understands the judicial process and the role he, the court, the prosecutors and his counsel play in that process. He said Moussaoui "clearly understands the charges against him, and he has publicly stated his intent to fight those charges."
He also said that while Moussaoui is competent, the court should hold a hearing to determine whether he knowingly and voluntarily waived his right to counsel. He said the court has the discretion to deny Moussaoui's motion to represent himself if he is doing so to manipulate the judicial system.
Mr.McNulty said the court should appoint Moussaoui's court-appointed defense team, headed by federal Public Defender Frank Dunham Jr., as standby counsel.


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