- The Washington Times - Friday, November 14, 2003

Terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui’s right to represent himself in the government’s only pending trial arising from the September 11 attacks was revoked yesterday by a federal judge, angry over two new “contemptuous” motions filed by the defendant.

U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria said the motions included “contemptuous language that would never be tolerated from an attorney and will no longer be tolerated from this defendant.” She promptly ordered his court-appointed defense team to represent Moussaoui.

“Mr. Moussaoui was placed on clear notice that he faced sanctions, including losing his right to represent himself, if he filed ‘further frivolous, scandalous, disrespectful or repetitive pleadings,’ or violated any court orders,” the judge wrote.

“Based on the defendant’s repeated violation of orders of this court, he has forfeited his right to represent himself any further in this case.”

The judge, who granted Moussaoui the right of self-representation on June 14, 2002, also said she would no longer accept pleadings in the case from Moussaoui, only those filed by his defense team. Any motions he files, she said, would “simply be received for archival purposes.”

The order came after Moussaoui filed requests for a classified congressional report concerning the September 11 attacks and another asking for reconsideration of a prior order imposing penalties on the government. The judge also said all action in his case was to be postponed pending an appeal by the government on whether Moussaoui can interview al Qaeda witnesses now being detained.

Moussaoui, 35, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, is the only person charged in the September 11 suicide strikes on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania, and some law enforcement officials have described him as the intended “20th hijacker” had he not been in custody for immigration violations at the time.

Moussaoui has acknowledged belonging to al Qaeda, but has denied any involvement in the September 11 conspiracy.

Last week, Judge Brinkema warned Moussaoui she would revoke his right of self-representation. She had issued previous warnings, but last week’s admonition was the first to include consequences.

Moussaoui has filed hundreds of handwritten motions over the past several weeks, many of which regularly insulted the judge, prosecutors and his own court-appointed defense team, which had been named by Judge Brinkema to represent his legal interests.

The trial has been delayed indefinitely while the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond rules on Moussaoui’s right to question three al Qaeda operatives now being detained by U.S. military authorities.

U.S. Attorney Paul J. McNulty, whose office is handling the Moussaoui case, has defied two court orders by Judge Brinkema giving Moussaoui the right to question the detainees, saying Moussaoui’s access to the prisoners posed a threat to national security.

As punishment, the judge barred prosecutors from seeking the death penalty or presenting evidence linking Moussaoui to September 11.

Oral arguments are scheduled before the appeals court on Dec. 3. If the government is unsuccessful, the Bush administration is expected to move the case to a military tribunal.

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