updated 4/28/2005 6:34:57 AM ET 2005-04-28T10:34:57

Admitted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui told a judge in a secret session last week he remains hopeful that he will be sentenced to prison, not death.

“I will be ready to deal with the consequences, whatever they may be,” Moussaoui told U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema two days before pleading guilty. “It can be that some people decide that I will spend my life in Florence, Colo. It’s possible.”

Florence, Colo., is the site of the super-maximum-security federal prison that houses several convicted terrorists, including Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the blind Egyptian sheik imprisoned in the United States for the last dozen years for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks.

When he pleaded guilty last Friday, Moussaoui said he had engaged in a conspiracy to free Rahman, as part of a plot that included flying a plane into the White House. Moussaoui said this conspiracy was different than that of Sept. 11.

In the closed April 20 court session, Moussaoui made clear he has considered the possibility he would die, asking a month ago to speak to an advocate who would help ensure that he is buried in a Muslim land.

Otherwise, “I will be buried in Arkansas or they don’t give a damn” where, Moussaoui said.

“I have come to understand that the course I’ve chosen will lead me potentially ... to the gas chamber or the lethal injection,” Moussaoui added.

The court on Wednesday unsealed declassified sections of a transcript of the meeting.

'Buried in a Muslim land'
One of Moussaoui’s lawyers, Alan Yamamoto, told the judge that Moussaoui had asked for a professor named “Reza” to become part of his defense team so that he could defend himself.

“I wanted to ask Professor Reza ... to make sure that my body will be buried in a Muslim land,” Moussaoui told the judge. “I wanted to ask Professor Reza if he could follow up the issue.”

A Muslim professor named Sadiq Reza has communicated with Moussaoui in the past.

In the closed session, Yamamoto also gave the most detailed account yet of events leading to Moussaoui’s guilty plea last Friday to six felonies, four of which carry the death penalty, and which accuse him of conspiring with the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers. Despite his guilty plea, Moussaoui insists he had nothing to do with the Sept. 11 attacks.

Yamamoto told the judge that on March 28, Moussaoui expressed concern the defense was placing his life in jeopardy by asserting that he had a minor role in the Sept. 11 conspiracy, when in Moussaoui’s view he had had none.

“His position was any role would subject him to death and therefore that he wanted it made clear that that was not a defense that we should be using,” Yamamoto said.

Yamamoto then said that just two days later, Moussaoui had changed his mind, that “he wanted to plead guilty and ask for the death penalty.”

“He’s not explained to me why the change in circumstances,” Yamamoto said.

Yamamoto said Moussaoui insisted that he would not be giving up his right to appeal if he pleaded guilty. Moussaoui insisted the Supreme Court would still be interested in considering his case, although a week earlier it had rejected his attempt to directly question three al-Qaida prisoners.

Moussaoui believes the prisoners could exonerate him of any Sept. 11 involvement. In place of their live testimony, the government and Moussaoui’s lawyers would craft unclassified summaries from classified prisoner interrogations.

The issue could still come up in the upcoming penalty phase of Moussaoui’s case.

“His objective was to get back to the Supreme Court as quickly as possible to have them look at this issue of the witnesses and their ability to testify in his behalf,” Yamamoto said.

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