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'Osama tape could affect Moussaoui's trial'

Moussaoui's lawyers have appealed the sentence, but legal experts doubt that the appeals court in Richmond, will agree to a review.

india Updated: May 24, 2006 19:01 IST

A statement by Osama Bin Laden clearing Zacarias Moussaoui of any role in the September 11 attacks could be used as evidence at the Frenchman's US appeal trial, one of his lawyers said on Wednesday.

"One can imagine that such a statement would be part of the discussions before the appeals court," Francois Roux told French radio Europe 1.

"In itself, it's nothing very new since the people directly involved in the attacks, who have long been detained by the United States, have already said that Zacarias Moussaoui played no role in the attacks.

"Obviously, a confirmation coming from Osama Bin Laden would strengthen these statements," he said.

According to an unauthenticated audio recording broadcast on the Internet onTuesday, the Al-Qaeda leader said that Moussaoui had falsely confessed to being a September 11 plotter during his US trial.

The 37-year-old Frenchman of Moroccan origin -- the only man convicted over the attacks, which left nearly 3,000 people dead -- was sentenced this month to life imprisonment without parole.

Moussaoui told the court he would have piloted a jet into the White House had he not been arrested beforehand. He later tried in vain to withdraw his guilty plea.

His lawyers have appealed the sentence, but legal experts doubt that the appeals court in Richmond, Virginia -- seen as the most conservative in the United States -- will agree to a review.