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Last Updated: Monday, 3 April 2006, 22:33 GMT 23:33 UK
Mixed emotions at Moussaoui trial
By Matthew Davis
BBC News, Washington

Abraham Scott's wife was murdered on 9/11
Abraham Scott said Moussaoui was like a rabid dog

Families of the victims of 9/11 have been reacting with mixed emotions to a jury's decision that confessed al-Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible to face the death penalty.

Testimony from those who lost loved ones in the 2001 terror attacks against the US will form a crucial part of what is set to be a highly emotional second phase of the sentencing trial.

Victims' relatives will get their day in court to present their own harrowing stories of loss as prosecutors seek to show the human impact of the al-Qaeda strikes.

Abraham Scott lost his wife in the attack on the Pentagon, a few miles from the Alexandria courthouse.

This man has no soul, no conscience. What else could we ask for but this?
Rosemary Dillard

He described Moussaoui as like "a dog with rabies" that could not be cured, but said that he found little comfort in the decision to make him face execution.

"I thought I'd be elated but I wasn't," he said.

"Even though Moussaoui made certain negative comments I still feel sorry for him but not sorry enough to drop the decision of him being given the death penalty."

There was a very quiet and tense hour in the courtroom after the jurors had signalled they had reached a decision.

Moussaoui, 37, showed little emotion as the jury's verdict was read out. But as he left the room he shouted: "You'll never get my blood, God curse you all."

Even before the hearing started, those inside the courtroom knew Moussaoui was close by because he could be heard shouting every time a side door was opened up.

'Unbelievable'

Rosemary Dillard, whose husband, Eddie, was also aboard the plane that crashed into the Pentagon, has been closely following the case and intends to attend the next phase of the sentencing trial.

Zacarias Moussaoui after his 2001 arrest
Zacarias Moussaoui said he knew the attack would kill Americans

She said the verdict was just what she wanted to hear.

"I especially want to take time to say thank-you to [prosecutor] David Novak whose passionate closing at the hearing was everything, I mean he covered every point that the judge had given them.

"He did such a wonderful job, I think every family member was very proud of him, very proud of what the FBI, of the job that they did."

Mrs Dillard described Moussaoui's behaviour as he left the courtroom as "unbelievable".

"This man has no soul, no conscience. What else could we ask for but this?" she said.

'Disappointment'

The jury's verdict came days after Moussaoui stunned the courtroom and America by undercutting his defence - testifying that he was supposed to fly a plane into the White House on 9/11.

No penalty or verdict could reverse the pain and horror inflicted by the 9/11 hijackers and their collaborators
Senator Bill Frist

Legal experts suggested he had effectively put a noose around his own neck with the testimony, and that the death penalty was now the most likely verdict in the case.

But Carrie Lemack, one of the founders of the Families of September 11 support group - whose mother Judy was murdered on 9/11 - said it was a mistake to allow Moussaoui to "martyr" himself.

Her first reaction was "disappointment" at the verdict.

"This case is taking up so much time and attention and millions of dollars - it would be better if he simply spent the rest of his life in prison," she said.

'Wake-up call'

The next phase of the case is set to begin on Thursday. The defence will try to suggest that Moussaoui is mentally ill and it might also be suggested that he wants to be executed.

There was swift political reaction to the verdict.

US Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said it was a "small but important piece of justice".

"No penalty or verdict could reverse the pain and horror inflicted by the 9/11 hijackers and their collaborators," Mr Frist said in a statement.

"However, Mr Moussaoui's punishment is proof that our society is grounded in the liberating power of justice and the rule of law, which are our most valuable weapons in the War on Terror."

Tim Roemer, a former Democratic congressman and a member of the September 11 commission inquiry, told AFP news agency he hoped the jury's decision would offer some closure to the families of those who died.

"I hope it will [also] wake our government up to pass the needed reforms to make our country safer when there is so much more to do," he added.



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