Giuliani tells of 9/11 horror

Key quote “I froze. I realised in that couple of seconds, it switched my thinking and emotions. I said, ‘We’re in uncharted territory.’” - Ruduolph Giuliani

Story in full RUDOLPH Giuliani, the former mayor of New York City, yesterday described watching desperate people jump from the burning World Trade Centre in an emotional testimony to a jury that will determine if the 11 September conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui should die.

Jurors and spectators, including relatives of victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, also watched a video of the two planes hitting the twin towers and then five minutes of footage of people jumping from it. Many spectators gasped and cried while watching the video.

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Extra marshals were on hand as Mr Giuliani walked past Moussaoui and took the stand.

Mr Giuliani said that when he arrived at the scene, his deputy told him how bad the situation was and that people were jumping from the high floors of the towers. “I concluded or hoped he was wrong,” he said.

But then he saw people falling. “I froze. I realised in that couple of seconds, it switched my thinking and emotions. I said, ‘We’re in uncharted territory.’”

“I saw several people, I can’t remember how many, jumping,” Mr Giuliani said as he described his actions that day. “There were two people right near each other. It appeared to me they were holding hands.

“Of the many memories, that’s one that comes to me every day.”

Last year Moussaoui, an admitted al-Qaeda member and the only person charged in the United States over the 11 September attacks, pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy. Three of the charges carry the death penalty.

On Monday, the 12-person jury found Moussaoui was eligible for the death penalty.

The jurors agreed with the government argument that Moussaoui’s lies when he was arrested three weeks before the attacks led to the deaths of nearly 3,000 people in the catastrophe.

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In this final phase of the sentencing trial held in Alexandria, Virginia, jurors will decide if Moussaoui should be sentenced to death or life in prison.

This phase will focus more on emotions than the legal arguments of the initial stage of the proceedings. The government is expected to produce dozens of witnesses, including family members of people who died in the hijackings and people who were injured in the attacks, to talk about how they were affected by the outrage.

The trial is also to hear the cockpit voice recordings from United Flight 93, which crashed into a field in the state of Pennsylvania, after passengers fought back against the hijackers. The tape has never been heard publicly.

Mr Giuliani, who won high praise for his handling of the crisis, was the first major witness to testify. He described where he was that day, what he saw and what he felt.

“By the time the second plane hit, we knew for sure it was a terrorist attack,” he said.

Calling 11 September, 2001 “the darkest day in American history,” the federal prosecutor Robert Spencer told the jurors they needed to sentence Moussaoui to death for his part in the disaster.

“Now it’s time for you to hear the voices,” he said. “In this part of the trial you will hear the voices of the victims.”

Mr Spencer described one call from a woman on the 83rd floor of the second tower to fall. “The floor is completely engulfed,” she said. “We’re on the floor and we can’t breathe … I don’t see any more air … I’m going to die, aren’t I?”

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But Gerald Zerkin, one of Moussaoui’s court-appointed lawyers, urged jurors to keep an open mind and listen to evidence that the defendant had a mental illness that caused him to be involved in the conspiracy.

Mr Zerkin described how Moussaoui grew up with little religious training and fell under the influence of radical Muslims when he travelled to London in hopes of becoming a businessman.

He called Moussaoui a “wannabe al-Qaeda suicide pilot who could not fly and did not have a crew”.

Lawyers for the government are expected to bring scale models of the World Trade Centre towers into the courtroom for dramatic effect when they present evidence from victims and witnesses of the attacks.

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