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BREAKING NEWS ~ Moussaoui seeks withdrawal of guilty plea

[JURIST] AP is reporting that Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] has said that he lied about his involvement in the September 11 terror attacks [JURIST news archive] and has asked to withdraw his guilty plea [JURIST report]. Moussaoui was sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] last week at the conclusion of a two-month sentencing trial [case docket]. He pleaded guilty in April 2005 to conspiracy charges [indictment] in connection with the Sept. 11 attacks, including conspiracy to commit acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, conspiracy to destroy aircraft and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.

In his motion to withdraw guilty plea [PDF text], Moussaoui argues:

As stated in the attached notarized affidavit from Moussaoui dated May 6, 2005, Moussaoui wishes to withdraw his guilt[y] plea because when he entered the plea, his "understanding of the American legal system was completely flawed." Affidavit at 8. "Because I now see that it is possible that I can receive a fair trial," the Affidavit states, "even with Americans as jurors and that I can have the opportunity to prove that I did not have any knowledge of and was not a member of the plot to hijack planes and crash them into buildings on September 11, 2001, I wish to withdraw my guilty plea and ask the Court for a new trial to prove my innocence of the September 11 plot." Id. at 18.
Moussaoui's lawyers note in the motion that "Defense counsel are aware that Rule 11(e) [text] prohibits a defendant from withdrawing a guilty plea after imposition of sentence," but said they filed the document anyway due to their "problematic relationship with Moussaoui." Moussaoui testified at trial that he and "shoe bomber" Richard Reid were meant to fly a fifth plane into the White House [JURIST report] on September 11.

6:00 PM ET - Judge Leonie M. Brinkema has now rejected Moussaoui's plea withdrawal motion.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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