INTERNATIONAL

Plea for death sentence

Washington: The Justice Department has formally announced that it will seek the death penalty against Zacarias Moussaoui, for his role in the terrorist attacks of September 11. The Bush administration has notified a federal court of the decision in a case where the trial will begin on September 30. Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccoan descent, has been charged with conspiring with Osama bin Laden and the other 19 hijackers to attack New York and Washington. A Department document said Moussaoui engaged in an act of violence "knowing that the act created a grave risk of death to a person'' and that this crime "constituted a reckless disregard for human life''. The U.S. said Moussaoui's offences involved substantial planning and premeditation. The U.S. has thus also set the stage for a debate in Europe where many countries, including France, opposes the death penalty. France recently told the U.S. that a bilateral judicial agreement would exclude it (France) from cooperating if the former seeks the capital punishment. "We ask our counterparts in the international community to respect our sovereignty and we respect theirs. To the extent they can cooperate and help us, we welcome that cooperation,'' said the Attorney General, John Ashcroft.

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