Germany's Highest Court Refuses to Hear Appeal of Sept. 11 Defendant

Germany's highest court on Friday refused to take up the appeal of a Moroccan man convicted of helping three of the Sept. 11 suicide pilots.

Mounir el Motassadeq was convicted in November of being an accessory to the murder of the 246 passengers and crew on the four jetliners used in the 2001 terrorist attacks.

A court in Hamburg on Monday gave el Motassadeq the maximum penalty under German law of 15 years in prison.

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The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said Friday it would not hear el Motassadeq's appeal.

El Motassadeq's attorneys claimed that evidence from other terrorism suspects was not properly considered at his trial.

Another appeal to Germany's federal appeals court has been filed and it is not yet clear when that may be addressed. Defense attorneys also have said they might appeal the case to European courts.

El Motassadeq was a friend of pilots Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah when they lived and studied in Hamburg. He has acknowledged training at an Al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and that he was close to the three hijackers though has always maintained he knew nothing of their plans.

However, the federal appeals court said evidence showed el Motassadeq knew that the men planned to hijack and crash planes and that his actions — transferring money, and helping the hijackers keep up the appearance of being regular university students by paying tuition, fees and rent — facilitated the attacks.

El Motassadeq was arrested in November 2001 and has spent about three years in custody — time that would be counted against any final sentence.