Of course, there were a few...er...hiccups:
- El-Motas'sadeq was convicted on the strength of testimony by two other men. Under new anti-terrorism legislation in Germany (nearly identical to that contained in the USA-PATRIOT Act), the evidence was entered secretly, and while the judge and the prosecution was allowed to see it, the defense was not. This, shall we say, slightly hindered their ability to defend their client.
- The defense attorneys claimed that a third man could offer evidence that refuted that of the first two men and would exonerate their client, and requested that he be brought to Germany to testify. He needed to be brought to Germany because he is currently in detention here in the United States, although he has not been given access to an attorney or been informed of the charges or evidence against him. The United States government flatly refused to allow him to travel to Germany to testify. El-Motas'sadeq's attorneys then asked if he could be allowed to give written or videotaped testimony. This request was also refused.
- German law allows the families of victims to give testimony at a trial. The prosecution flew over the families of the World Trade Center attacks; several members of the family took the stand to call el-Motas'sadeq a "murderer". One woman who lost her husband in the attack later confessed that she didn't know who the defendant was or even what he was charged with; the prosecutors simply told them that he was connected with the 9/11 hijackers. The defense, of course, was not allowed to present evidence to the families. This set up a curious continuum in which a single person who might have offered evidence that would free the defendant was NOT allowed to testify, while a group of people who were largely ignorant of the case against him WERE allowed to testify.
I'm trying not to waste a lot of anger on this case, because I have a feeling that we're going to see a lot more just like it.