Family members comment on possible open-court depositions for family members of 9/11 victims at Guantánamo

Tim Ryan reports in Courthouse News Service  on the recent suggestion of the Guantánamo prosecution to take open-court depositions from those elderly or ill relatives of those murdered in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 who would have difficulty testifying at the trial which may be years away. Two such witnesses have recently died.

If permitted, the depositions would be used in the pre-sentencing phase of the trial to demonstrate how the deaths of the 9/11 victims impacted their families.

Defense attorneys protested the idea, saying the depositions could improperly influence those who could later serve as the military equivalent of jurors.

Some family members spoke with reporters about possible depositions.

“First time that I felt that there was finally some positive direction,” said Ken Fairben, whose son Keith was killed in the collapse of the South Tower. He added that “there was not a dry eye in this group” when the idea was presented.

Ed Ryan, trial counsel for the government, who proposed the idea at the hearing, said that the accused should be in the room during the depositions. Jim Samuel, who lost his son James at Carr Futures in Tower 1, agreed, saying, “To let the ones that did this hear, hear what people lost.”

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