[JURIST] US District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema on Monday sat 12 jurors and 6 alternates in the sentencing trial [case docket] of al Qaeda co-conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui [JURIST news archive] following several weeks of jury selection [JURIST report]. While Moussaoui's lawyers attacked many of the 83 potential jury members [JURIST report] as being tainted with personal connections to victims of Sept. 11, the prosecution insisted that the sheer number of individuals connected to Sept. 11 makes it impossible to find jurors who were not affected by the attacks. Moussaoui pleaded guilty [JURIST report] last year to conspiracy charges [indictment] related to his involvement with al Qaeda but has said that he was not involved with planning the Sept. 11 attacks. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday afternoon.
Moussaoui will either receive life in prison or the death penalty depending on whether the jury finds he was aware of the Sept. 11 plot with enough specificity to have warned US officials of the plan when he was arrested in August of 2001, thus preventing the terror attacks. Moussaoui's defense lawyers have attempted to compel the testimony [JURIST report] of US Rep. Curt Weldon (R-PA) [official website], who was recently subpoenaed [CNN report] as a witness to the extent of the government's knowledge of the identities of Sept. 11 hijackers before the terror attacks. Weldon does not want his testimony to potentially aid the defense of an admitted terrorist, and has claimed official immunity from a subpoena. AP has more.