Judge favors Sept. 11 pretrial secrecy

March 26, 2009 at 9:44 PM
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NEW YORK, March 26 (UPI) -- A U.S. judge said he favored keeping more than a million pages of Sept. 11-related documents secret, despite efforts by victims' families to make them public.

In New York, Judge Alvin Hellerstein said forcing the turnover of documents from airlines and security companies would bog down efforts to bring to trial lawsuits filed by the families who've refused to accept a monetary settlement of their claims.

"Right now, I want to move these cases to trial," the New York Daily News quoted Hellerstein as saying. "That's my goal."

Three holdout families out of nearly 100 chose to pursue litigation rather than accept a settlement from the Sept. 11 Victim Compensation Fund, the newspaper said.

Hellerstein did not issue a ruling but indicated to the families' lawyer, Donald Migliori, that he likely would rule against them.

Michael Low, 66, whose flight attendant daughter Sara, 28, died aboard American Airlines Flight 11 when it hit the north tower of the World Trade Center Sept. 11, 2001, said he was disappointed by Hellerstein's ruling.

"This just didn't happen because the 19 thugs were so smart," Low told the New York Post. "Some of them were terribly inept."

He said he also hopes the documents will help others learn more about their loved ones' final moments.

Low learned two months ago that his daughter had relayed the seat numbers of the hijackers to the ground so that federal agents could identify them.

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