updated 5/3/2006 9:47:35 PM ET 2006-05-04T01:47:35

The mother of Zacarias Moussaoui said Wednesday she felt "dead" after her son was sentenced to life in prison, insisting he was convicted of crimes he didn't commit.

Aicha El Wafi, speaking on French radio, said Moussaoui's conviction by a U.S. jury over the Sept. 11 attacks was "the worst thing that could happen to a mother."

"I feel nothing. I am dead, because my son was wrongly convicted," El Wafi said in brief comments to France-Info radio after the ruling came down.

El Wafi's lawyer, Patrick Baudouin, said she planned a news conference on Thursday in Paris, where she had returned recently from a trip to the United States.

Baudouin expressed delight that the jury did not hand down a death penalty for Moussaoui, a Frenchman of Moroccan descent and the only person charged in the United States over the Sept. 11 attacks.

Baudouin vowed a legal battle to bring Moussaoui home.

"We will pursue unrelentingly a request to French authorities that they demand a return of Zacarias Moussaoui to France," he told The Associated Press. "So the fight isn't over — far from it — it is only beginning."

Sentence ‘extremely severe and disproportionate’
"I am delighted that the American jury did not hand down the death penalty despite the pressure of public opinion, the aggression of prosecutors and the legitimate emotion of the victims," he said.

While a death penalty "would have only added barbarity upon barbarity," Baudouin said that the life sentence was also "extremely severe and disproportionate."

"That said, I can't be happy with the sentence handed down — life in prison is extremely severe and disproportionate to the acts that can really be attributed to Zacarias Moussaoui," he said.

French Justice Minister Pascal Clement, in a statement prepared before the verdict for release after it was read, said he would consult the foreign minister on the possible steps to take now.

Embassy offers consular protection
Meanwhile, the French Embassy in Washington said France is offering Moussaoui the consular protection he deserves as a French national, but so far he has not asked for it.

In a press communique, the embassy said it had dispatched the consul general from Washington and an embassy official to every session of the trial.

"We repeat our complete willingness to meet once again with Mr. Moussaoui, as part of the exercise of his consular protection, should he express the wish for such a meeting, which he has not done thus far," the communique said.

It said the embassy "has taken note of the life sentence" and added: "This decision was made by the independent court of a sovereign state. Mr. Moussaoui's trial ... was conducted in an exemplary fashion."

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