Moussaoui jurors adjourn without a verdict

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - Jurors in the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui asked for a definition of weapons of mass destruction on Thursday (Friday NZT) as they wound up their first full day of deliberations without reaching a verdict in the only US case related to the deadly September 11 hijackings.

In her answer to the jurors, who were due to resume deliberations on Friday (Saturday NZT) , US District Judge Leonie Brinkema said planes, used as missiles, could be considered weapons of mass destruction.

Last year Moussaoui, 37, pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy in connection with the attacks. One of the three counts that carries the death penalty is conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.

Prosecutors had argued the French citizen of Moroccan descent should be executed because his lies to investigators after he was detained shortly before September 11 led to nearly 3,000 deaths in the hijacked airliner attacks.

The 12 jurors must decide if Moussaoui lied to the FBI in the weeks before the hijackings, and if those lies led to the deaths of at least one person on September 11.

In dramatic testimony on Monday, Moussaoui said he had lied to the FBI after he was arrested on August 16, 2001, to ensure that the plot went forward.

He said he knew about the plan and was meant to pilot a fifth plane aimed at the White House.

Moussaoui's testimony contradicted what he said last year when he pleaded guilty. Then, Moussaoui said he was not part of the September 11 plot but was meant to take part in a second wave of attacks.

If the jury decides that Moussaoui's lies did lead to deaths on September 11, a second phase of the sentencing trial will be held to determine finally if he is to be executed or sentenced to life in prison.

- REUTERS

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