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WASHINGTON - Former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday he was disappointed that Zacarias Moussaoui was not sentenced to death for the September 11 attacks, but other US politicians hailed the verdict as fair.

"I believe the death penalty was appropriate in this case," said Giuliani, who was mayor of New York in 2001 when two planes flown by Al-Qaeda hijackers smashed into the World Trade Center twin towers.

Had Moussaoui told the FBI about the plot, Giuliani told MSNBC television, "all those wonderful people would be alive and children that I know don't have fathers would have fathers."

But Democratic congresswoman Jane Harman applauded the verdict. "To my eyes this was a very fair outcome," she said, explaining that the death penalty "would have martyred" Moussaoui.

Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan parentage, is the only person to be tried in the United States in the 2001 attacks, which killed nearly 3,000 people.

Although he was in jail weeks before the attacks, prosecutors said he could have given them information to halt the plot, and so shared culpability in the deaths.

The jury ruled that although he confessed a role in the attacks, he should only get life in prison without possibility of parole.

US Deputy Attorney General Paul McNulty insisted that Moussaoui was guilty but appeared to accept the verdict and indicated the US authorities would not make a new attempt to secure a death penalty verdict.

"In Al-Qaeda's terrorist training camps, Zacarias Moussaoui fermented his hatred of America," McNulty said after the verdict.

"He lied about why he was in the United States and his intentions to fly a plane into the White House. This lie was a critical moment in the conspiracy, and it allowed his fellow terrorists to carry out their brutal plans."

In a statement, President George W. Bush avoided comment on the verdict, but said: "The end of this trial represents the end of this case, but not an end to the fight against terror."

"The enemy that struck our shores on September 11 is still active, and remains determined to kill Americans," he said.

Former congressman Tim Roemer, who served on a high level commission which investigated how the attacks took place, noted that Moussaoui's trial demonstrated that the US legal system works fairly.

"This is a legal outcome that some people will be divided on ... but we have a system that works. And for the hearts and minds of the world looking at our system this is what separates us from the terrorists."

New York governor George Pataki expressed disappointment in the verdict.

"I happen to personally think that the death penalty is an appropriate part of a fair system of criminal justice. I certainly believe at this death penalty is appropriate when people engaged in terrorist acts and take thousands of lives," he told MSNBC television.

"I don't know how the jury came to that conclusion. But all I can say is that we have shown the world we have a fair and balanced system of justice."

Bernard Kerik, who was the New York City Police Commissioner when the attacks took place, voiced anger that Moussaoui did not get the death sentence.

"This guy came here to kill Americans," he told Fox News Channel.

"He has said over and over in his trial that he would do it again."

But Giulani, whose management of the post-attacks recovery in New York propelled him to national popularity and possibly set the stage for a run for the presidency in 2008, said Americans should accept the verdict.

"If you believe in this system, you have to be willing to agree with conclusions that you would not share," Giulani said.

05/03/2006 23:10 GMT

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