A US federal judge is trying to turn the courtroom misbehaviour of confessed al-Qaida conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui into a useful tool for picking the jury that will decide whether he is put to death or imprisoned for life.
Five hundred potential jurors from northern Virginia got a taste yesterday of what his sentencing trial might entail: Moussaoui was kicked out of court four times as a month of jury selection got under way.
Last April, Moussaoui pleaded guilty to conspiring to fly planes into US buildings, but claimed he had no role in the September 11 plot.
Potential jurors arrived at court in four separate groups.
Moussaoui, a short, bearded Frenchman in a green prison jump suit, interrupted the first session just as it began – to announce “I’m al-Qaida” and disavowed the lawyers appointed by the court to represent him.
US District Judge Leonie Brinkema warned Moussaoui that it wasn’t his time to speak and, when he kept going, had marshals escort him from the room. He left without resistance, but declared, “This trial is a circus.”