The only September 11 suspect ever convicted walked out of a Hamburg jail today with a big smile, released less than two-and-a-half years into a 15 year sentence after judges ruled the evidence against him was too weak to hold him pending a retrial.
Explaining their decision, the Hamburg judges said evidence for the main charges against el Motassadeq - more than 3000 counts of accessory to murder - was no longer "urgent" because testimony from an al-Qaeda suspect in US custody was lacking. El Motassadeq was ordered to stay in Hamburg and report to police twice a week.
The accessory to murder charges remain in force, along with a charge of membership in a terrorist organisation. [...] El Motassadeq, 30, has acknowledged training at an al-Qaeda camp in Afghanistan and being close friends with Hamburg-based suicide hijackers Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrah. But he has denied knowing of the plot to attack the United States.
Defence lawyer Josef Graessle-Muenscher predicted the retrial would fail on the same grounds as the first one unless the United States provided more evidence. "I would like the Americans to really open all their books and give all the files and witnesses we need for there to be a chance for a fair trial," he said.
As of yet, no trial date has been set, but Robert Zicari thinks the government's case may already be crumbling. "When they raided our office, they seized five movies," he says. "But then they only indicted us on three. So either the grand jury said those two other movies weren't obscene, or the government didn't present those movies to the grand jury. And one of those movies was Ass Clowns #3, where Jesus comes off the cross after being crucified and rapes an angel. So now my question is, why is the rape in Ass Clowns all right, but the rape in Forced Entry isn't?"
Zicari has a lot of similar questions, if it comes to that. For example, why is pornography held to a higher standard of decorum than other genres of pop culture? Are the two amateurishly simulated murders in Forced Entry somehow more offensive than the dozens of expertly simulated murders in Jason vs. Freddy or Gangs of New York? Is the difference between eating semen-spattered dog food in a porn movie and eating raw pig rectums on Fear Factor really so pronounced that the former deserves a jail sentence while the latter becomes a prime-time major network staple?
"What's the difference between us and Hollywood?" asks Zicari. "We show explicit sex, and they don't. And they make hundreds of millions of dollars, and we're going to have to spend $300,000 [in legal fees] to keep from going to jail. And it's a shame, because it makes me bitter about the United States, and I'm like the biggest fucking patriot motherfucker in the world."
[...] The Zicaris each face maximum sentences of 50 years in prison and $2.5 million fines. By comparison, the maximum sentence for actual rape in Pennsylvania is 20 years.
Dutch eye surgeons have implanted tiny pieces of jewellery called "JewelEye" in the mucous membrane of the eyes of six women and one man in cosmetic surgery pioneered by an ophthalmic surgery research and development institute in Rotterdam.
The procedure involves inserting a 3.5 mm (0.13 inch) wide piece of specially developed jewellery -- the range includes a glittering half-moon or heart -- into the eye's mucous membrane under local anaesthetic at a cost of 500 to 1,000 euros (270 to 540 pounds).
"In my view it is a little more subtle than (body) piercing. It is a bit of a fun thing and a very personal thing for people," said Gerrit Melles, director of the Netherlands Institute for Innovative Ocular Surgery.
The piece of jewellery is inserted in the conjunctiva -- the mucous membrane lining the inner surface of the eyelids and front of the eyeball -- in sterile conditions using an operating microscope in a procedure taking about 15 minutes.