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Jury hears 9/11 victim's scream

BBC | April 11 2006

The dying scream of a man who was talking on his mobile phone as the south tower of the World Trade Center collapsed has been heard in a US court.

Jurors who must decide whether al-Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui should be executed listened to the final moments of Kevin Cosgrove on 11 September 2001.

Trapped in his 99th floor office, the executive was talking to an emergency dispatcher when the building came down.

The tape was the culmination of a day of harrowing evidence.

It was played with a synchronised videotape showing the moment when the tower fell.

Cosgrove, vice-president of insurance broker Aon, was heard shouting "Oh my God" amid crashing sounds, before he screamed and the line went dead.

Tuesday will see further evidence of the suffering caused by the 11 September attacks presented to the jury.

US district judge Leonie Brinkema has warned prosecutors not to overplay emotional testimony, reminding them that appeal judges can overturn a death sentence if they believe it was overly prejudicial.

Prosecutors say they have scaled back some testimony, and are presenting evidence from a fraction of those affected by nearly 3,000 deaths that day.

Judge Brinkema said she had also decided against releasing the cockpit voice recording from Flight 93 to the public after it is played in court this week.

This followed several objections by relatives of those on board the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. Only the transcript will be released.

'I am going to die'

On Monday, jurors also heard calls for help to emergency services from 34-year-old Melissa Doi, who was on the 83rd floor of the south tower.

"The floor is completely engulfed, it is very, very hot. I am going to die aren't I? I am going to die, I am going to die," a panicking Doi could be heard saying.

"Please God, it is so hot, I am burning up."

C Lee Hanson told the court that his son Peter, daughter-in-law Soo-Kim, and two-and-half-year-old granddaughter Christine Lee were on a plane bound for Disneyland on 11 September when it was hijacked.

Theirs was the second aircraft deliberately flown into the twin towers in New York.

"I think they are going to try to crash this plane into a building," Mr Hanson quoted his son as telling him in a mobile phone call.

"He said: 'Don't worry Dad. If it happens, it will be quick'.

"As we were talking, all of a sudden he stopped and said very softly: 'Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God'.

"I looked over at the television set and saw a plane fly into the building."

'God bless Osama'

Moussaoui, a French citizen of Moroccan descent, is the only person charged in the US in connection with the attacks.

AFP news agency reports that he seemed to be smiling during some of Monday's evidence.

At the end of the day, he shouted: "God curse you all, God bless Osama" - a reference to al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

The jury deciding his fate has already declared him eligible for the death penalty.

Although he was in jail in Minnesota at the time of the attacks, jurors ruled that lies told by Moussaoui to federal agents kept them from identifying and stopping some of the hijackers.

Defence lawyers say the jury should spare Moussaoui's life because of his limited role in the attacks, evidence of mental illness, and because his execution would only fulfil his dream of martyrdom.

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