updated 6/21/2005 12:56:20 AM ET 2005-06-21T04:56:20

A Moroccan acquitted of charges he helped the Sept. 11 hijackers was heading home Tuesday, two days ahead of the German deadline for him to leave the country.

Abdelghani Mzoudi, 32, was acquitted in February 2004 of charges he helped Sept. 11 hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah in their plot to attack the United States. He faced charges of more than 3,000 counts of accessory to murder and membership in a terrorist organization.

Testimony at his trial showed that Mzoudi trained at the same al-Qaida camps as the hijackers and was close friends with them in Hamburg. But Hamburg state court judges ruled that the prosecution failed to prove he knew anything about their plot.

Government stands by accusations
After his acquittal was upheld earlier this month, Hamburg’s top security official, Udo Nagel, said his office was still ordering him expelled because it “stands by its view that Mzoudi threatens the free democratic order and supports terrorist organizations.”

Mzoudi did not comment to reporters after his arrival at Hanover’s airport.

A man identifying himself as a Hamburg immigration official presented Mzoudi’s passport at check-in, saying he would return it once inside the restricted area.

Ahead of his departure, one of his lawyers, Guel Pinar told The Associated Press that Mzoudi was looking forward to returning to his family in Marrakesh.

“He’s happy he’s going to see his family again,” she said.

Pinar said Mzoudi plans to continue his electrical engineering studies, which were interrupted by his 2002 arrest.

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