Judge Gives Sept. 11 Families Access to Moussaoui Evidence

A federal judge on Friday reaffirmed her ruling that gives some families of Sept. 11 victims access to evidence in the Zacarias Moussaoui trial as part of two civil lawsuits that have been filed.

Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to reconsider her April 7 ruling, which gave the civil plaintiffs access to much of the evidence the government turned over to Moussaoui's lawyers.

The government said Brinkema's ruling gives civil plaintiffs unprecedented access to sensitive information in an ongoing investigation — namely, the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Brinkema's order "will likely provide negative consequences for numerous criminal cases in the future," prosecutors said in their brief arguing for reconsideration.

The plaintiffs' lawyers said it was only fair that evidence turned over to Moussaoui should also be given to families who were victimized on Sept. 11.

The two lawsuits seek compensation from the airlines and those who allegedly financed Al Qaeda for alleged negligence in allowing the attacks to occur.

In a brief hearing Friday, Brinkema refused to reconsider her ruling, but told government lawyers they can request exemptions for specific documents they consider sensitive from the judge in New York who is overseeing the civil cases.

Ronald Motley, on of the plaintiffs' lawyers, said he was pleased with Brinkema's ruling and that it clears the way to get long-sought evidence in their case.

The government said it provided more than 2 million pages of unclassified documents to the defendants in the Moussaoui case. Classified documents are exempt from Brinkema's ruling.

Moussaoui, a 37-year-old Frenchman, was sentenced to life in prison earlier this month after a jury ruled that Moussaoui, an admitted Al Qaeda member, was responsible for at least one death on Sept. 11. The jury could not unanimously agree on a death sentence, so a life sentence was imposed automatically under federal law.