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Giuliani describes 9/11 horrors

BBC | April 7 2006

Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has described seeing the horror of the 9/11 attacks on the city's twin towers.

He told the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui he had been unwilling to believe people were jumping from the buildings until he saw it with his own eyes.

The jury has to decide whether the self-confessed al-Qaeda member Moussaoui should be executed. Mr Giuliani testified for the prosecution.

The court will also hear from relatives of some of those killed in the attacks.

Mr Giuliani told the jury the image of two people jumping together from the World Trade Center, holding hands, remained with him every day.

Describing the moment he saw people falling, he said: "I froze. I realised that in a couple of seconds, it switched my thinking and emotions. I said 'We're in uncharted territory'."

The human and emotional costs of the attacks, when hijacked planes were deliberately flown into New York's twin towers and the Pentagon, are taking centre stage at the trial.

On Monday, jurors said Moussaoui could face the death penalty. He is the only man to be charged in the US in connection with the 9/11 attacks.

The 37-year-old French citizen has pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy to attack the US.

'Nuclear cloud'

During Mr Giuliani's testimony, the jury was played video clips of the planes crashing into the twin towers, and people jumping from the buildings.

It was the worst thing I have ever seen in my life

Rudolph Giuliani
Former New York Mayor

The former mayor, who was sitting next to scale models of the World Trade Center in court, said: "By the time the second plane hit, we knew for sure it was a terrorist attack."

He added that after the towers collapsed, it looked like a "nuclear cloud" was going through Manhattan, Reuters news agency reported.

The scene at the World Trade Center site was "horrid".

"It was the worst thing I have ever seen in my life," Mr Giuliani told the jury.

"You could see parts of human bodies, hands and legs, a lot of injured... this was a war, this was a battle, we were attacked," the AFP news agency quoted him as saying.

News agencies reported that during a morning break in proceedings when the judge and jury were out of the court, Moussaoui sang "Burn in the USA" - apparently adapting the lyrics of the Bruce Springsteen song "Born in the USA".

A former New York fireman, Anthony Sanseviro, also testified on Thursday, describing how a colleague had been killed by a falling body, AFP reported.

"I heard it coming, a whistle coming in," he told the court. "It just seemed like a missile coming in," he said.

Cockpit tape

Prosecutors are said to be planning to read out the names of the 2,972 victims of the attacks, and show their pictures in court.

Before Mr Giuliani took the stand, prosecutor Robert Spencer told jurors they would hear from families of the victims.

He said that evidence "will be all you need in this case to sentence the defendant to death", AFP reported.

But defence lawyer Gerald Zerkin urged the jury to remain open to "the possibility of a sentence other than death", according to the Associated Press agency.

He said the defence would prove Moussaoui suffered from mental illness and had had a difficult upbringing, and urged jurors "not to be fooled" by his client's apparently normal behaviour in court, AFP reported.

On Wednesday, Judge Leonie Brinkema ruled that a cockpit recording from the hijacked airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania could be played in the courtroom.

The judge has given relatives of the Flight 93 victims until Tuesday to request the audio - which has so far only been played to the relatives - be kept from the general public.

But she has said that if there are no objections, the recording will be released to the public the day after it is submitted as evidence.

Prosecutors want to use the recording to show the jury how passengers were treated by 9/11 hijackers.

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