Sat, Apr 22, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Victim's mother opposes death sentence

DPA , ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA

Relatives of the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks testified on Thursday in defense of Zacarias Moussaoui, in the death penalty trial of the confessed al-Qaeda conspirator.

Defense lawyers trying to spare his life also read a statement discrediting Moussaoui's own testimony that he was to fly a fifth plane into the White House on Sept. 11, 2001, along with attempted shoe bomber Richard Reid.

Defense attorneys then rested their case, meaning the 12-person jury could receive the case by Monday. The jury must decide whether Moussaoui -- the only man who has faced charged in the US for a role in the Sept. 11 attacks -- should be executed or receive life in prison without possibility of parole.

Family members earlier in the day told the jury that they were coping with the losses of their loved ones, and that life had moved on.

Alice Hoagland, whose son Mark Bingham died on Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after a passenger revolt, said that Bingham "embraced love and inclusiveness."

While family members were forbidden from commenting in court on whether Moussaoui should receive the death penalty, Hoagland said later, outside the courthouse, that she did not want Moussaoui to die.

"Taking another human life will not help us in this situation," she said.

The family members of victims have in the past been divided over whether Moussaoui should be put to death, with some arguing that his execution would give him the satisfaction of being martyred.

Moussaoui, 37, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, pleaded guilty in April last year to six charges of conspiracy and earlier this month was found eligible for the death penalty by the same jury that must now decide his actual sentence.

Prosecutors say he could have prevented the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington if he had revealed what he knew of the plot upon his arrest in August 2001.

Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyers had earlier in the week sought to paint their client as delusional and possibly schizophrenic, while a clinical social worker said he grew up in a violent, broken home.

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