German court convicts Moroccan Sept. 11 suspect

German judge critizes U.S. for lack of evidence in Sept. 11 case

A Moroccan accused of assisting the Sept. 11 hijackers was convicted Friday in Hamburg. Mounir el-Motassadeq was sentenced to seven years in prison for his involvement, but was acquitted of direct involvement in the attacks.

After a year-long trial, Hamburg state court acquitted el -Motassadeq of more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder, ruling that the evidence did not show he was specifically involved in the Sept. 11 plot.

Judge Ernst-Rainer Schudt criticized U.S. authorities for their failure to provide more evidence.

Mounir el-Motassadeq became part of the Hamburg al-Qaeda cell in 1999, before its members traveled to Afghanistan, where they were recruited for the attacks on the U.S.

The court found "indications that el Motassadeq was not initiated in all the details," Schudt said. "Our impression is that the defendent is too soft for such a task."

"How are we supposed to do justice to our task when important documents are witheld from us?" Schudt asked after Friday's verdict.

Defense attorney Ladislav Anisic plans to appeal the new verdict.

In 2003, the 31-year-old el-Motassadeq became the first person to be convicted in connection with the attacks. A U.S. federal appeals court overturned the conviction and released him, ruling that he was unfairly denied testimony from al-Qaeda suspects in U.S. custody.