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Moussaoui prosecutor suspended with pay

March 16, 2006 at 9:00 PM

ALEXANDRIA, Va., March 16 (UPI) -- The Transportation Security Administration has placed a lawyer on paid leave for coaching witnesses in the penalty hearing for an admitted terrorist.

Carla Martin's action led U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to ban the testimony of seven Federal Aviation Administration employees.

U.S. prosecutors argue that Zacarias Moussaoui deserves a death sentence for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks even though he was in jail at the time on immigration charges. They hope to convince the jury that federal investigators could have averted the attacks if Moussaoui had revealed everything he knew.

Martin, a former flight attendant who has worked on high-profile cases like the Lockerbie bombing, was supposed to play only a minor role in the Moussaoui case, the Washington Post reported. In court papers, prosecutors called her the "lone miscreant" and talked of her "aberrant and apparently illegal behavior."

The sentencing hearing is in recess until Monday. Prosecutors are trying to determine if they can go forward without the seven FAA witnesses.

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