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 Wednesday, 18 December, 2002, 19:37 GMT
Millennium plotter testifies in 9/11 case
Mounir al-Motassadek
Motassadek is being tried in connection with 9-11
German court officials have begun questioning an Algerian national jailed in the United States about his possible connections with a terror suspect on trial in Germany.

Ahmed Ressam, who was arrested while crossing into the United States from Canada in 1999 and was later convicted of participating in an unsuccessful millennium bomb plot, is being questioned over three days in the western US city of Seattle.

Ahmed Ressam
Ressam denies any link with the hijackings
The questioning is presided over by Judge Albrecht Mentz, from the Hamburg court that is trying Mounir al-Motassadek - a Moroccan who is the first man to stand trial over the 11 September attacks in the US.

He is accused of being an accessory to more than 3,000 murders in New York and Washington, and of belonging to an al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg.

Ressam is being questioned behind closed doors. Wednesday's session lasted three hours and dealt with "preliminary matters", according to US prosecutors.

Camp experience

Correspondents say Ressam's connection with Mr Motassadek, 28, is not clear.

Mr Motassadek's lawyer says his client never knew Ressam and the only experience the two men shared was training in Afghan camps.

Judge Albrecht Mentz
Judge Albrecht Mentz is presiding over the trial
However German chief federal prosecutor Kay Nehm has said information from Ressam was key to the indictment against Mr Motassadek.

Mr Motassadek is the first man to stand trial over the 11 September attacks.

He is accused of providing logistical support to Mohamed Atta - the alleged mastermind - and others in the al-Qaeda cell in Hamburg.

Mr Motassadek insists he has no prior knowledge of the attacks, and knew the hijackers only socially.

His trial began in Germany in October 2002. He faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

Ressam was arrested on 14 December 1999 in Washington state, while trying to enter the United States with enough explosives to make at least four high-powered bombs, hidden in a rental car.

The authorities believe he was part of an international conspiracy to bomb Millennium celebrations.

Last year a court in Los Angeles convicted Ressam on nine criminal charges including conspiracy to commit terrorism.


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27 Oct 02 | From Our Own Correspondent
22 Oct 02 | Europe
29 Aug 02 | Americas
07 Apr 01 | Americas
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