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Germany Concerned Its Evidence to Be Used to Back Death Penalty in 9/11 Trial

A German government official says the nation will send an observer to the upcoming trial in New York of the professed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks and four accused henchmen.

Justice Ministry spokeswoman Katharina Jahntz on Saturday confirmed a report in Der Spiegel that a German observer would attend the trial to ensure that no evidence provided by Germany would be used to apply the death penalty.

Three of the four suicide pilots who carried out the attacks had lived and studied in the northern German city of Hamburg. Germany, like the rest of Europe, except for Belarus, does not execute criminals

U.S. authorities announced last week that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be tried by a New York court. No date has been set, but the choice of a civilian court rather than a military tribunal set off heated debate within the United States.

President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder firmly rejected such criticism Wednesday, predicting that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed would be exposed as a murderous coward, convicted and executed.

"Failure is not an option," Holder declared.

The president, in a series of TV interviews during his trip to Asia, said those offended by the legal rights accorded Mohammed by virtue of his facing a civilian trial rather than a military tribunal will not find it "offensive at all when he's convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him."

Obama, who is a lawyer, quickly added that he did not mean to suggest he was prejudging the outcome of Mohammed's trial.

"I'm not going to be in that courtroom," he said. "That's the job of the prosecutors, the judge and the jury."

The president said in interviews broadcast on NBC and CNN that experienced prosecutors in the case who specialize in terrorism have offered assurances that "we'll convict this person with the evidence they've got, going through our system."

In Washington, the Senate Judiciary Committee questioned Holder for hours about his decision to send Mohammed and four others from the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to New York for trial in a federal courthouse blocks from the site of the World Trade Center towers destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001.

The attorney general said he is certain the men will be convicted, but even if a suspect were acquitted, "that doesn't mean that person would be released into our country."

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