- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

HAMBURG, Germany — U.S. authorities have sent a German court new evidence for the retrial of the first September 11 terror attack suspect convicted, a court official said yesterday.

The Hamburg state court has received six pages of summaries from the interrogations of two captured al Qaeda suspects, Ramzi Binalshibh and Mohamedou Ould Slahi, said Sabine Westphalen, a court spokeswoman. She refused to comment on the contents, saying that the evidence must be translated into German before being read in court on May 24.

The summaries came with a letter from the German Justice Ministry saying that U.S. authorities “consider the matter closed,” Miss Westphalen said — indicating that Washington does not intend to provide further evidence or witness testimony in the retrial of Mounir el Motassadeq.

The 31-year-old Moroccan is being retried on more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization on suspicion he provided logistical support for the September 11 suicide hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Samir Jarrah.

He was convicted in 2003 on the same charges and sentenced to the maximum 15 years, but an appeals court threw out the conviction last year and ordered a retrial. It ruled that he had been unfairly denied testimony by key al Qaeda suspects in U.S. custody.

The Hamburg court has for months pushed for further information from Washington, and the German government has said Homeland Security adviser Frances Townsend told German Interior Minister Otto Schily when he visited Washington in February that the U.S. would send more documents.

When Motassadeq’s retrial opened in August, the Justice Department had supplied summaries of the interrogations of Binalshibh — a Yemeni believed to have acted as al Qaeda’s liaison with the Hamburg cell — and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, thought to have masterminded the attacks.

A Mauritanian, Ould Slahi, is suspected to have been an al Qaeda contact in Germany.

An FBI agent was also sent along with a member of the September 11 commission to testify in the Hamburg court.

Motassadeq has said he was close friends with Atta and others in the group, but did not know they planned to attack the United States.

That assertion was backed by Binalshibh and Mohammed in the transcripts provided last year, but the Justice Department cited “inconsistencies by at least one of the individuals” and cautioned that they may have been trying “to influence as well as inform.”

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