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Judge Rules Moussaoui Can Represent Himself

BY Admin  June 13, 2002 at 6:30 PM EST

Moussaoui had requested he be able to represent himself, saying that his lawyers were a part of a U.S. government conspiracy to kill him. The French citizen of Moroccan descent is the only person indicted for involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks and has denied any involvement.

After reviewing a court-appointed psychiatrist’s report, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema warned Moussaoui that she deemed it unwise for him to represent himself against such serious charges, but said “The court has ample evidence to find the defendant, Mr. Moussaoui, competent.

“There is no evidence of delusion or strange behavior,” she said.

Moussaoui is charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida to assist in the Sept. 11 attacks. U.S. officials suspect Moussaoui, detained in August on immigration charges, planned to be the 20th hijacker.

Brinkema repeatedly warned Moussaoui, 34, that she considered it unwise for him to proceed without counsel in a case where four of the six charges against him carry the death penalty.

The suspected conspirator responded to the judge’s comments, saying that he understood the gravity of the charges brought against him.

“I understand fully the U.S. system of justice and I will never see the light again. I understand this,” Moussaoui told a packed courtroom.

Brinkema ruled that the suspect’s court-appointed lawyers must remain with their client in a stand-by capacity, although he repeated that he would not seek their advice.

In April, Moussaoui told the judge that he believed his court-appointed lawyers were involved in a government conspiracy to kill him, and therefore wished to fire them.

The lawyers disputed Brinkema’s competency ruling, saying his conspiracy theory proved he was delusional.

During the hearing, the defendant told the judge that he had proof a “covert operation” against him that had been going on since his arrival in the United States. He said he believed this information was so compelling that it should lead the judge to dismiss his case.