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Court Finds Moussaoui Can Defend Himself

Aired June 13, 2002 - 14:41   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Twenty minutes before the hour and this breaking news. We want to take you to Alexandria, Virginia, for the case of the alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui. Our Deborah Feyerick is there and she fills us in on the details.

Hi, there, Deborah.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fredricka. Well, some bizarre goings-on in the court. First of all, to get the legalities out of the way, the court did find that Zacarias Moussaoui is competent, and that he can act as his own lawyer in court.

Moussaoui was very adamant about this point. He said that it is not possible for him to, in his words, entrust his life with someone else. He said that he had met with a Muslim lawyer and that the Muslim lawyer would be helping him, in terms of interviewing witnesses.

But again, it's not clear whether that's going to happen, simply because that lawyer also has to go through clearance and get contacts here in Virginia. And we're not sure that he has those just yet.

Now, Moussaoui at one point -- actually, several times during the course of the hearing -- kept standing up. And he was adamant about getting his address into the record.

And basically, what he said is that he had secret information that will basically exonerate him, or shows that he's not guilty. He said that he was trying to, basically, repeatedly tell the judge that look, this is where I lived. The U.S. government has been mounting a covert operation against me and the 19 hijackers.

And he said that there's proof that they'd been following him since he arrived in the United States back in 1998. And he also cited in his proof that, back in 1998 when he was in Britain, that his apartment was raided soon after the embassy bombing trial.

Now, the judge kept stopping him, saying this is not the place for this information. This is not the time for this kind of information. Said if you want to file a motion, but you basically can't just say, here, I've got proof, listen to what it is.

But Moussaoui was very definite in his belief that once he told the judge, this whole thing would be cleared up and she would basically say, we made a mistake, you can go home with your mom.

Now, his mother was in court today. As he walked in, she stood up. She was dressed all in black and it was a very stark image. The courtroom was packed and there was just this one woman who was standing up, as he walked in.

He did not initially see her. And yet as she saw him, she began to cry. She had also retained another lawyer for him. But Moussaoui said, I don't want this lawyer. I know that my mom is trying to do what's best by me, but the only thing that's best by me is for me to represent myself. So he didn't even consider using this lawyer.

Prosecutors are OK with him representing himself. But his own defense team said that they didn't want any part of this anymore, simply because Moussaoui is so convinced that they're part of a conspiracy to kill him, that they felt it would be detrimental, ultimately, to his own defense -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And, Deborah, isn't it true now, that if he is going to represent himself, then has it already been made clear that he would not have access to rather sensitive documents, or prosecution evidence against him? He would not be able to use that to represent himself, correct?

FEYERICK: He understands that. And he understands it very well. As a matter of fact, he said that he wanted to get someone who would basically do some legwork for him.

But even so, he was confident that this piece of information, whatever it was, would actually just set him free.

WHITFIELD: Now of course, what's next?

FEYERICK: What's next is that there are a couple of more motions that have to be filed. Zacarias Moussaoui and the courthouse actually said, look, give me a pen, give me some paper. I'm going to write down why I feel you should let me go home with my mother today or in the next few days. And at least this way you can consider that motion now.

The judge said: No, we're not going to do that. You file it properly. And so, that's where we are. He's going to continue filing his motions. They have only been filed with the court, so the prosecutors will be able to see them, as well as the defense.

Because the defense said, look, we're being accused of being part of a conspiracy to kill this man. We certainly should have a right to see what he's writing about us, so at least we can answer it. Moussaoui wasn't very happy about that. He sees that as a form of censure, basically.

WHITFIELD: All right, thanks very much. Deborah Feyerick from Alexandria.

So, once again, alleged 20th hijacker, Zacarias Moussaoui, does win what he was looking for. He wants to represent himself in court and the judge agreed to it.

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