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LAW CENTER

Giuliani to testify for U.S. at 9/11 trial

Jury to hear cockpit recording from United Flight 93

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN

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Former New York Mayor Rudy Guiliani is among the witnesses the government plans to call.

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ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) -- Rudy Giuliani, who led New York through the dark days after the September 11 terrorist attacks, will be among the first witnesses when the death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui resumes on Thursday, CNN has learned.

In addition, the lone cockpit voice recorder recovered from the four hijacked planes will be played publicly for the first time, the judge has ruled.

Giuliani, the former New York mayor who some consider a possible presidential candidate in 2008, will testify about the impact of 9/11 as a witness for the government.

Besides the 2,749 lives lost as the twin towers of the World Trade Center burned and fell, prosecutors intend to show how the attacks disrupted New York's government and economy. The deaths of 343 firefighters also are part of that evidence.

Giuliani may offer compelling testimony about a fire rescue unit captain who died, Terry Hatton. Hatton's wife, Beth Petrone, was Giuliani's executive assistant for 17 years, and Giuliani officiated at the couple's marriage.

Moussaoui's attorneys and federal prosecutors met behind closed doors Wednesday with U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema to finalize the emotional evidence that will be introduced in the coming weeks.

Brinkema ordered that jurors can hear the cockpit voice recorder from United Flight 93 -- the Newark to San Francisco flight that crashed in a reclaimed coal field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

Relatives of the 40 passengers and crew who have heard the 31-minute tape say it confirms a heroic uprising in which passengers turned on the hijackers.

Prosecutors invited Flight 93 families to hear the tape at a special briefing in 2002, when the Moussaoui trial was originally scheduled to begin.

Jurors already have heard a partial transcript of American Airlines flight attendant Betty Ong telling the airline's customer service center about stabbings and the spraying of mace near the front of the plane as the first plane headed toward the Trade Center.

"We can't even get up to business class right now 'cause nobody can breathe," Ong said at the start of the four-and-half-minute call.

Life or death decision

The jury found Moussaoui eligible for the death penalty on Monday, concluding that lies he told federal agents interrogating him a month before the attacks directly contributed to some of the nearly 3,000 deaths on September 11.

The panel of nine men and three women must now decide whether Moussaoui should die by injection, the only form of execution permitted in the federal system.

Moussaoui, 37, a French national of Moroccan descent, admitted last year that he conspired with al Qaeda, the terrorist group responsible for September 11, to hijack and crash planes into prominent U.S. buildings.

Until he testified at his trial, Moussaoui insisted he had no role in the plot or advance knowledge of specific plot details.

But on the witness stand, Moussaoui said he knew in advance of the plan to crash planes into the World Trade Center and was to pilot a fifth plane into the White House on September 11.

Moussaoui's self-incriminating testimony severely damaged the defense case. His attorneys suggest that Moussaoui hopes to become an al Qaeda martyr.

10 'aggravating factors'

The pain and suffering of the 9/11 families is one of 10 "aggravating factors" prosecutors will set out to prove to justify a death sentence. The physical and emotional harm to survivors is another. As many as 40 witnesses are prepared to testify about the attack's impact on them and their families.

The federal death penalty statute requires the government to prove that Moussaoui's lies to protect the terror conspiracy caused grave risk of death and were committed in a heinous, cruel, depraved manner with substantial planning and premeditation.

Additionally, prosecutors intend to prove Moussaoui shows no remorse and exploited educational opportunities in a free society for violent means when he trained at U.S. flight schools.

Besides the deaths, prosecutors intend to show that the attacks disrupted the functions of the Pentagon and of New York's government and economy.

Meanwhile, Moussaoui's mother is not expected to testify for the defense, CNN has learned. Aicha el-Wafi recently wrote the judge, but the letter's contents have not been disclosed.

El-Wafi, 59, a retired telecommunications worker who lives in southern France, attended three days of the trial's first phase. In an interview with CNN that week, she said she feared her son would be made "a scapegoat" for September 11. (Watch Moussaoui's mother describe "political" trial -- 2:22)

"He's right to choose death instead of staying and dying like a rat in a hole," el-Wafi told French 2 television after the verdict, according to a translation.

Moussaoui's defense team is planning witnesses and evidence about their client's mental health. They may include a pair of Washington psychiatrists who were in court to observe Moussaoui's testimony.

One defense expert has concluded that Moussaoui suffers from a thought disorder, probably schizophrenia, according to court papers.

A social worker is expected to describe Moussaoui's troubled family history and their mistreatment as North African immigrants in France.

CNN's Kevin Bohn and Justine Redman contributed to this story.

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