A Corkman whose sister and niece were killed in the Sep 11, 2001, attacks on New York is to give evidence in the trial of the men who masterminded the terrorist acts.
Ron Clifford, 57, who had been living in the US for two decades before the attacks, was in the lobby of the World Trade Center when the planes struck the towers.
As the disaster unfolded, he did not realise his sister Ruth Clifford McCourt and her daughter Juliana were on the second of the stricken planes. Ruth and Juliana are now buried in St Finbarr’s Cemetery in Cork.
Mr Clifford is to travel to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to give evidence in the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has claimed he planned the attacks, as well as his associates Walid Muhammad Salih Mubarak Bin Attash, Ramzi Binalshibh, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, and Mustafa Ahmed Adam al Hawsawi.
“We need to prove these people are culpable. They planned this, orchestrated it, carried it out to a tee,” he told the Irish Voice newspaper. “They’ve had an incredibly negative effect on humanity as we know it. I miss my sister and my niece every day. I wonder, on their birthdays, what they would be like at this age.”
The hearings are due to start next Wednesday and Mr Clifford expects to be called “probably toward the middle of the trial”.
He said even though he had clearance as a victim’s family member to watch all the proceedings via CCTV, he would not do so because it would be too upsetting.
“I would just want to walk into court, say my piece, and know that he [Khalid Sheikh Mohammed] was judged and sentenced accordingly.
“I don’t think emotionally I could go through it every day and watch it. I think I’d just get very angry.”
He has already given evidence in the 2006 trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was jailed for life for his role in the attacks.
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