US judge suspends Moussaoui trial
A federal judge has interrupted the sentencing trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only man to be charged in the US in connection with the 9/11 attacks.
Judge Leonie Brinkema is considering whether to rule out the possibility of executing Moussaoui because of "egregious" government misconduct.
The government said one of its lawyers had coached four witnesses, breaking rules set by the judge.
Moussaoui has pleaded guilty to six charges of conspiracy.
The prosecution has called for the death penalty, but defence lawyers are seeking a term of life imprisonment.
Judge Brinkema said she had been advised by the prosecution that a lawyer for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had breached her rule that no witness should hear trial testimony in advance.
The lawyer had read a transcript of the first day of the trial and discussed some of the testimony with four potential witnesses, Judge Brinkema said.
"In all the years I've been on the bench, I've never seen such an egregious violation of the court's rule on witnesses," she told the trial in Virginia, now into its second week.
Prosecutor David Novak said the FAA lawyer "should have known it was wrong".
The defence immediately filed a motion for the death penalty to be dismissed as a possible sentence. Defence lawyer Edward MacMahon said: "We are not going to get a fair trial".
He's quite nuts, and has done much to hurt his defense. Killing him would be akin to murder.
posted by Steve @ 5:43:00 PM