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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Guilty Verdict in 9/11 Trial

Aired February 19, 2003 - 07:46   ET

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

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: We have some breaking news for you now. After three-and-a-half months of testimony, a German court now has convicted the first September 11 suspect, Mounir el Motassadeq, to be tried worldwide. They have sentenced him to 15 years in prison, the maximum.
Let's go to Matthew Chance, who is standing by in Hamburg with more on the verdict.

Good morning -- Matthew.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you as well, Paula.

That's right, 15 years, the maximum sentence handed down by this Hamburg court to Mounir el Motassadeq for being involved with, belonging to the Hamburg-based cell essentially of a terrorist organization, in this case al Qaeda, the Hamburg cell of that, which is believed to have planned and carried out the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

Also, by implication, involved in being -- charged and found guilty now of being an accessory in the murder of more than 3,000 people on American soil as a result of that attack.

This is the verdict handed down. It's been a very difficult trial, and one that is really underlying the difficulties of bringing conspiracy -- terrorism conspiracy charges in the European courts.

All along, Motassadeq has been arguing that he did nothing wrong, that he simply befriended fellow Muslims in an unfamiliar city of Hamburg while he attended a university here. The prosecutors, though, in the event successfully arguing that his associations with a number of the hijackers of September 11 was sufficiently close to warrant this guilty verdict and this maximum 15-year sentence -- Paula.

ZAHN: Thank you, Matthew Chance.

We also want to add to that that during the trial, Motassadeq admitted to training at an al Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan.

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