Moussaoui jury sees photos of charred 9/11 victims

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors on Tuesday showed a jury photos of the charred remains of people burnt at the Pentagon on September 11 during a day of wrenching testimony at Zacarias Moussaoui's sentencing trial.

As some people in the courtroom gasped and defence attorneys objected, prosecutors showed several graphic photographs of charred, blackened bodies of victims burnt when American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

One photograph appeared to be most of a body, resting on a blue plastic sheet. Another showed burnt body parts found inside the Pentagon and a third appeared to be several bodies lying side by side.

"Burn all Pentagon next time," Moussaoui shouted after the judge and jury left the courtroom for a lunch break.

Moussaoui has pleaded guilty to six counts of conspiracy in connection with the September 11 attacks. The jury must decide if he is to be executed or sentenced to life in prison.

After the photographs were shown, survivors of the attack on the Pentagon -- located only a few miles from the court where Moussaoui's trial is being held -- spoke about how they fought through smoke and heat to escape the building.

Army Lt. Col. John Thurman described facing a "curtain of fire" and said the smoke and heat were so overwhelming he just wanted to lie down and take a nap.

"And that's when I knew I was going to die," said Thurman. "So I just got very angry. ... At that point I realized I just had to ... with every ounce of strength I had, to get out of there."

Thurman said he was not permanently injured from the attack but still felt guilt about surviving when 26 of his colleagues and friends died in the Pentagon.

"There's guilt about being the survivor, about getting the lucky break," he said.

Lt. Nancy McKeown dropped her stiff Navy bearing and broke into tears as she recalled trying to find two men who worked for her as she sought to escape the burning building. The men both died.

Prosecutors are expected to finish presenting their case by Wednesday and the defence will begin on Thursday. The case might go to the jury by late next week.

- REUTERS

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