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Moussaoui again disrupts court

Published Feb. 15, 2006

Confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui again disrupted his sentencing trial with insults and epithets Tuesday and was barred from the courtroom while a jury is selected to decide whether he is put to death or imprisoned for life.

After verbally sparring with Moussaoui for about 15 minutes, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema ordered that he must watch the remainder of jury selection on closed-circuit television from his courthouse cell. That could take until March 6, when opening statements are scheduled.

Brinkema said her main purpose in Tuesday's hearing was to determine "how Mr. Moussaoui plans to behave: . . . whether you plan to remain quiet . . . or whether you plan to make speeches."

Moussaoui was ejected four times on Feb. 6 when he denounced his court-appointed lawyers in front of four groups of prospective jurors.

The 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan descent pleaded guilty last April to conspiring with al-Qaida to fly aircraft into U.S. buildings but has denied any role in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Moussaoui claims to have been training to fly a 747 jetliner into the White House as part of a subsequent plot.

When Brinkema asked how he would behave, Moussaoui walked to the lectern and pulled out what appeared to be a handwritten speech. "You have been trying to organize my death for four years," Moussaoui told her.

Clad in a white knit cap and green prison jump suit with "prisoner" in white block letters on the back, Moussaoui launched into another attack on his lawyers and in the process offered diatribes against President Bush and the French people.

At various points, he called Bush "a crusader" who was "launching a new campaign of revenge against terrorists."

Lawyers begin questioning jurors today.