Moussaoui trial moved to give defense more prep time

Saturday, August 17, 2002

ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Turning aside government objections, a federal judge Friday postponed the trial of accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui until Jan. 6 after concluding the defense couldn't be ready this fall.

U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said the evidence was voluminous and complex, and she granted Moussaoui's motion to postpone the trial.

The French citizen, 34, is representing himself against charges that he conspired with the 19 suicide hijackers to commit terrorism. A team of court-appointed defense lawyers supported Moussaoui's postponement request.

Under the revised schedule:

Questionnaires will be distributed to a pool of potential jurors Nov. 18.

The pool will be narrowed by Dec. 6.

Questioning of jurors in court will begin Dec. 9 and continue until a final pool of 90 is selected. From that group, there will be 12 jurors and 6 alternates selected on Jan 6, followed by opening statements.

"Although the public's right to a speedy trial is a legitimate concern, this court's paramount concern is ensuring that the defendant receive a fair trial," Brinkema said in a three-page order.

"The volume and complexity of the evidence in this prosecution fully support the defense request," she said.

Brinkema also said each side would be permitted to dismiss 25 individuals from the jury pool.

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