Moussaoui can be executed, jury says

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - A federal jury has decided Zacarias Moussaoui is eligible for the death penalty for conspiracy in connection with the September 11 attacks, the court said this morning.

The verdict, reached after about 17 hours of deliberation, was read at about 8am NZ time today (4pm Monday local time). CNN reported it was a unanimous decision.

"By this verdict, the jury has found that death is a possible sentence in this case," said Edward Adams, court public information officer.

Last year Moussaoui, 37, pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy in connection with the hijacked airliner attacks, which killed nearly 3000 people - mostly in New York - in September 2001.

After the judge and jury left the courtroom, Moussaoui shouted: "You'll never get my blood. God curse you all."

The decision means the jury will return to the courthouse -- just a few miles from the Pentagon, which was attacked on September 11 -- on Thursday for a second phase of the trial.

They will then hear evidence on whether Moussaoui should be put to death or given a sentence of life in prison.

Federal prosecutors are expected to present testimony from some of the families of victims from the deadly hijackings.

- REUTERS

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