Moussaoui gets life in Colorado Supermax

Hank C
DENVER (AP) - Convicted terrorist conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui began serving his life sentence at the country's most secure prison after U.S. marshals flew him overnight from Virginia to Colorado.

Marshals brought Moussaoui, implicated in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on America, to the Supermax federal prison in southern Colorado, where he will spend 23 hours a day in his cell and have little to no contact with other notorious criminals.

"He has now begun serving his sentence of life without the possibility of release," the U.S. Marshals Service said in a statement.

A team of deputy marshals took Moussaoui from a detention centre in Alexandria, Va., late Friday night, put him on a small jet operated by the agency and delivered him to the prison in Florence, Colo., about 145 kilometres southwest of Denver.

Moussaoui was the only prisoner aboard, said Ken Deal, chief deputy U.S. marshal in Denver. Deal said he did not know if the 37-year-old Frenchman made any statements during the transfer.

"He is secure in the administrative max (prison) in Florence, Colorado," Deal said. "All the inmates transferred there are handled with the highest level of security."

The transfer came got underway on the same day that Moussaoui's court-appointed lawyers appealed his life sentence and the denial of his request for a new trial.

In a one-paragraph notice of appeal, the lawyers said Moussaoui wanted the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to review the final judgment and sentence he received May 4 and Judge Leonie Brinkema's May 8 denial of his request to withdraw his guilty plea and go to trial on the original charges.

The $60-million Supermax, formally called Administrative Maximum, was built in 1995 in a town of 3,600 people. The triangular, two-storey prison was designed for inmates once held at the U.S. Penitentiary in Marion, Ill., which had replaced Alcatraz when it closed in 1963.

Among the inmates at the prison is Richard Reid, the would-be shoe bomber who Moussaoui said was to help him fly a fifth plane into the White House.

Two hijacked passenger planes slammed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center on Sept 11, 2001, killing thousands. A third struck the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. A fourth hijacked plane crashed into a Pennsylvania field after passengers moved against the terrorists.

The Bureau of Prisons said the Supermax currently houses 398 "of the nation's most violent, disruptive and escape-prone inmates."

Since Moussaoui's sentencing, he has said he lied when testifying at his sentencing trial that he was to hijack a fifth jetliner on Sept. 11, 2001. He has returned to claiming - as he had for four years before the trial testimony - that he had nothing to do with the suicide hijackings that took nearly 3,000 lives.

Moussaoui was in jail in Minnesota on immigration charges when the attacks took place. But he has admitted he was training to hijack a 747 jetliner and fly it into the White House as part of a later plot to gain release of a radical Egyptian sheik who is serving a life term for terrorist acts.

Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April 2005 to six counts of conspiring with al-Qaida to fly planes into U.S. buildings. A jury considering the three counts that carry the death penalty decided he was eligible for execution. They could not agree unanimously that he deserved it, so he was automatically sentenced to the lesser and only other penalty permitted: life in prison.

Brinkema sentenced him to six life terms, to run as two consecutive life sentences.

At Supermax, the soundproofed cells were designed so inmates cannot make eye contact with one another. Each two-by-seven metre cell has a long narrow window looking out at other prison walls or the small concrete recreation yard.

Concrete platforms topped with mattresses function as beds. Each cell also contains a concrete stool, shower and toilet.

Inmates get one hour out of their cells each day to eat or play basketball or handball, although some earn longer recreation periods through good behaviour. They can take academic courses via closed-circuit television in each cell. Religious services are conducted in a small chapel.

ŠThe Canadian Press, 2006 (external - login to view)
Hank C
Too bad I heard only one juror was at odds with givin this swine the death penalty.....who knows though, this may actually be worse for him. He'll have to rot in a cell instread of going out like a martyr

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