Moussaoui Asks, Is It Too Late To Plead Innocent?
This article is from the archive of The New York Sun before the launch of its new website in 2022. The Sun has neither altered nor updated such articles but will seek to correct any errors, mis-categorizations or other problems introduced during transfer.
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Convicted September 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui says he lied on the witness stand about being involved in the plot that destroyed the World Trade Center and wants to withdraw his guilty plea because he now believes he can get a fair trial.
In a motion filed Friday but released yesterday, Moussaoui, 37, said he testified March 27 he was supposed to hijack a fifth plane on September 11, 2001, and fly it into the White House “even though I knew that was a complete fabrication.”
A federal court jury spared the Frenchman the death penalty last Wednesday. On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema gave him six life sentences, to run as two consecutive life terms, in the federal supermax prison at Florence, Colo.
At sentencing, she told Moussaoui: “You do not have a right to appeal your convictions, as was explained to you when you plead guilty” in April 2005. “You waived that right.”
She said he could appeal his sentence, but added,”I believe it would be an act of futility.”
Moussaoui’s court-appointed lawyers told the court they filed the motion even though a federal rule “prohibits a defendant from withdrawing a guilty plea after imposition of sentence.” They did so anyway because of their “problematic relationship with Moussaoui” and the fact that new lawyers have yet to be appointed to replace them.