Moussaoui begins life sentence

Zacarias Moussaoui, the convicted September 11 conspirator, has begun serving his life sentence at the United States’ most secure prison after US marshals flew him overnight to southern Colorado from Virginia.

Zacarias Moussaoui was sentenced to six life terms.

Marshals brought Moussaoui, prisoner 51427-054, before dawn on Saturday to the Supermax federal prison, where he will spend 23 hours a day in his cell and have little or no contact with the other notorious criminals.


“He has now begun serving his sentence of life without the possibility of release,” the US Marshals Service said in a statement.


Moussaoui was the only prisoner aboard the small jet operated by the agency as he flew with a special team of deputy marshals to Florence, Colorado, about 145km southwest of Denver.


“All the inmates transferred there are handled with the highest level of security,” said Ken Deal, chief deputy US marshal in Denver.


Deal said he did not know whether the 37-year-old Frenchman made any statements during the transfer.


Afternoon arrival


Moussaoui arrived there in the afternoon, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said in a statement.


Prison spokesman Todd Javernick refused to say whether Moussaoui made any comments.


At the prison, Moussaoui exchanged his green jump suit for a tan prison outfit.


The $60m Supermax was  built in 1935 in a town of 3,600 people
The $60m Supermax was  built in 1935 in a town of 3,600 people

The $60m Supermax was  built
in 1935 in a town of 3,600 people

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


The Bureau of Prisons said the Supermax currently houses 398 “of the nation’s most violent, disruptive and escape prone inmates”.


Among the inmates at the prison are Ramzi Yousef, the convicted mastermind of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing in New York; Eric Rudolph, convicted of setting off a bomb at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics and some abortion clinics; Unabomber Ted Kaczynski; and Terry Nichols, who was convicted in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.


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


Life sentence appeal


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


Moussaoui's lawyers wanted the court to review the judgement 
Moussaoui’s lawyers wanted the court to review the judgement 

Moussaoui’s lawyers wanted the 
court to review the judgement 

In a one-paragraph notice of appeal, the lawyers said Moussaoui wanted the 4th US Circuit Court of Appeals to review the final judgment and sentence he received on 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.


Since Moussaoui’s sentencing, he has said he lied when testifying at his sentencing trial that he was to hijack a fifth jetliner on September 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.


Prison facilities 


Moussaoui pleaded guilty in April 2005 to six counts of conspiring with al-Qaeda to fly planes into US 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.


Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy 
Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy 

Moussaoui pleaded guilty to six
counts of conspiracy 

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


At Supermax, the sound-proofed cells were designed so inmates cannot make eye contact with each other.


Each 7ft-by-12ft 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, though 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.

Source: News Agencies