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Moussaoui to spend life in jail

Alexandria (Virginia), May 4 (Reuters): A defiant Zacarias Moussaoui shouted “God curse America” in the US courtroom where he was sentenced to life in prison today, after family members of September 11 victims angrily confronted him.

Moussaoui, the only person convicted in the US in connection with the September 11 attacks, sat passively as three family members came forward, including one whose husband died in the plane that was crashed into the Pentagon.

“For you I feel nothing but disgust,” said Rosemary Dillard. “I hope you sit in that jail without seeing the sky, without seeing the sun ... and that your name never comes up in the news again.”

In what are likely to be his last public remarks before being put away in a maximum-security federal prison, Moussaoui used his opportunity to address the court to yell out the curse against America he has sounded almost daily in his two-month sentencing trial. “God save Osama bin Laden. You’ll never get him,” the confessed al Qaida operative added.

He was sentenced minutes later by Judge Leonie Brinkema to life in prison with no possibility of release.

A jury yesterday rejected a US-government request that Moussaoui be executed and it recommended he spend the rest of his life in prison. He will almost certainly be sent to the super-maximum-security facility in Florence, Colorado.

Moussaoui, 37, pleaded guilty to conspiracy in connection with the deadly hijackings. He spoke for less than 10 minutes and was stopped when he started making what Brinkema called “a political speech”.

Moussaoui criticised Brinkema for limiting him. “It was a wasted opportunity for this country to know why people like me and why people like Mohammed Atta have so much hatred for you,” he said, referring to the ringleader of the September 11 attacks.

Dressed in a green prisoner jumpsuit and white cap, Moussaoui walked into the courtroom flashing a “V” for victory sign with his fingers. He sat with a broad smile on his face.

After she sentenced Moussaoui, Brinkema said the jury’s verdict showed that justice had been done.

“Every American, that is those who wanted to see this defendant executed and those who did not, should feel satisfied,” Brinkema said.

“Mr Moussaoui, you came here to be a martyr and to die in a great bang of glory. But to quote T.S. Eliot, ‘You will die with a whimper’,” she added, referring to the famous American poet.

Although more than 40 family members of victims testified during the sentencing trial, Brinkema gave them one last chance to speak.

Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, was in jail on September 11 after raising suspicions at a flight school.

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