Sat, May 06, 2006 - Page 7 News List

Jury statement offers some insights into deliberations


The breakdown of the vote of jurors in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial remains secret. But a 42-page statement by the jury offers surprising insights into the deliberations that led them to opt for life in prison rather than the death sentence.

The statement reveals that members of the jury rejected the US prosecution case that Moussaoui played a central role in the Sept. 11 al-Qaeda plot. They accepted a list of mitigating factors put forward by the defense, mainly that he had suffered from an abusive background as a child.

But three of the 12 jurors then went out of their way to add a mitigating factor of their own. A note in scratchy handwriting, presumably by the jury foreman, recorded that the three believed "that Zacarius (sic) Moussaoui had limited knowledge of the 9/11 attack plans."

Nine accepted the defense's case that "Moussaoui's unstable early childhood and dysfunctional family resulted in his being placed in orphanages and having a home life without structure and emotional and financial support ... resulting in his leaving home due to his hostile relationship with his mother."

The same number also accepted his father had been abusive, and three agreed he was subjected to racism in France. But none accepted that he had endured hardship after moving to England, where he lived in a homeless shelter.

None of the jurors accepted two key arguments, that Moussaoui had a mental illness and that executing him would make him a martyr.

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