9/11 victims suffered 'torture', not Guantanamo detainees: families

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, CUBA (AFP) - Allegations by five accused 9/11 plotters that they were tortured in US detention have outraged many relatives of those who died in the attacks, who said their loved ones suffered a far worse fate.

Lawyers for Guantanamo Bay detainees argued this week their clients should not face the death penalty because their rights were violated during alleged torture in secret CIA prisons. But those charges have been greeted with indignation from the 10 or so people at pretrial hearing here whose loved ones perished in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan, or who died in the attacks in Pennsylvania and at the Pentagon.

"We're not here to try to change America, but we're here to get justice," said Mr Richard Costanzo, whose sister died in the Sept 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. "To listen to them put the US on trial instead of these five men is outrageous."

Defence attorneys at pretrial hearings this week for the men invoked the United Nations Convention Against Torture, telling the judge that the death penalty should be taken off the table because of their clients' treatment in detention.

But Mr Jim Jenca, who was badly hurt when hijacked passenger jets were flown into the World Trade Center causing the collapse of its twin towers, insists that he has been traumatised, too, by having lived through the horrors of 9/11.

"I have more (scars) on my body. I was tortured", on Sept 11, said Mr Jenca.

Mr Jenca said the defence strategy deflects attention from where it should be - on the alleged criminal behaviour of the five suspects who sought to bring about the undoing of the United States - and the deaths of their innocent victims.

"This case is not about... how they've been treated. This case is about the murder of nearly 3,000 people that were killed," said Mr Jenca, echoing other victims and survivors attending the trial.