2- fte Ml n Daly -Wesdy, October6,1993
World Trade Center bombing trial starts
Witnesses recall February terrorist act that killed 6, injured more than 1,000
NEW YORK (AP) - To
firefighter William Duffy, finding an
elevator packed with people who had
collapsed from smoke "waslikeopen-
ing up a tomb." Elevator operator
Joaquin Villa Fuerta recalled think-
ing, "We're all going to die."r
They and other witnesses testified
yesterday about the horrors that dis-
rupted their lives on Feb. 26 when a
bomb exploded in the garage of the
110-story twin World Trade Center
.office towers, killing six people and
injuring more than 1,000.
Prosecutors in the trial of four
Muslim fundamentalists charged in
the bombing also played a recording
of a call James Reilly made on his car
phone after pulling outof the center's
..garage just after the explosion.
"There was an explosion at the
exit ramp to the World Trade Center
parking lot ... a tremendous explo-
sion!" Reilly told a 911 operator.
Reilly, asalesmanager, said in the
second day of testimony that he saw
"remnants of steel guardrails, thick
aluminum tubing, stop signs" being
blown around his car.
He looked down the ramp andsaw
thick black smoke pouring out of the
garage and a bloodied man lying on
the ground waving his arms.
Ralph Cruz, areal estate company
worker who was driving about 100
feet ahead of Reilly, said his rear
windshield exploded and a large chunk
of twisted black metal became em-
bedded in his windshield frame.
"I said, 'Thank God,' first of all,"
On trial are Mohammad Salameh,
Ahmad Ajaj, Mahmud Abouhalima
and Nidal Ayyad. If convicted, they
could get life in prison without pa-
In opening statements Monday, a
prosecutor said no one will testify he
saw the defendants make the explo-
sive or leave the bomb in a rental van
parked in the towers' underground
Prosecutors say the evidence will
tie the four to each other .and to the
attack. In their opening statements
Monday, defense lawyers maintained
their clients' innocence.
Firefighter Duffy testified how he
carried an ax and oxygen to the 44th
floor of one tower, where stuckeleva-
tors had to be brought down manu-
ally, packed with people who had
been trapped for hours.
People covered with soot "like
they had been in a fire" lumbered off
the first two elevators, he said.
As the third elevator descended,
there was no sound from inside. As
firefighters pulled open the doors,
they were hit with "a blast of hot air,
ash, smoke and solidified carbon," he
"The first thing I saw was people
lying head-to-toe on the floor in the
elevator. I actually thought all the
people in the elevator were dead be-
cause there was no movement," he
"It was like opening up a tomb,
that's what it reminded me of," he
said, recalling the ashen color of the
people's skin and the limp body of the
first man he dragged out.
After Duffy propped him against
a wall, the man began to move and
Duffy went to help others.
Fuerta, the elevator operator, said
he began ushering people down a
stairway from the 106th floor just
after finishing lunch with fellow op-
erator Wilfredo Mercado.
"On the 70th floor the smoke was
much stronger and people started to
get panicky. I saw an old lady crying.
I saw a man on the ground trying to
breathe," Fuerta said in Spanish.
"It just came to mind that we
weren't going to make it all the way.
We were all going to die due to smoke
inhalation," he said through an inter-
When Fuerta got to the bottom, he
could not find his friend Mercado.
He was one of those killed.
Former Black Pather Ahmad Abr-hmnsakabueqliynte
judicial system yesterday at the WestI
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Continued from page .
cent, prohibits legislation that would
protect homosexuals, lesbians and
bisexuals from discrimination and
prevents state courts from hearing
cases involving discrimination on the
basis of sexual orientation.
In response to challenges regard-
ing the amendment's constitutional-
ity, the Colorado Supreme Court has
placed an injunction on the law pro-
hibiting its enforcement until after a
Colorado for Family Values, a
group formed "to stop gay activists
before they trample on your freedom,"
supports Amendment 2. It maintains
that the measure does not foster dis-
crimination based on sexual orienta-
tion, but ensures that homosexuals,
lesbians and bisexuals are not granted
Croson responded, "Clearly we
are not asking for special rights. We+
are just saying that the laws of this
country should protect us the same as
QLSA said it envisions the boy-
cott, if approved, will eventually
spread to the entire University. In
order to encourage the boycott, QLSA
has been posting signs and holding
Continued from page ±
ance would be controversial. Many
teachers now negotiate in their con-
tracts to have health insurance pro-
vided through an arm of the Michigan
Education Association, the state's
largest teachers union.
"I believe there will be hardy de-
bate on anything that deals with cost
containment or labor issues. I would;
imagine those will be some of the
toughest components," he said.
Sen. Dan DeGrow (R-Port Hu-
ron) chair of the Senate school aid
budget subcommittee, said eliminat-
ing millage votes in 94 percent of the
state's districts is a major improve-
ment by itself.
"If you take his plan as it is with no
changes, it would be vastly superior
to the system we have now," he said.
Stabenow said that won't happen.
meetings to inform University fac-
ulty and students of the implications
of Amendment 2.
Since the passing of Amendment
2, violent crimes against homosexu-
als and bisexuals in Colorado have
increased 275 percent, Croson said.
In addition to the increase in violent
crimes, QLSA is concernedaboutdis-
crimination in the areas of employ,
ment, housing, medical care and pub-
A strong coalition of gay-rights
organizations and human-rights
groups throughout the country have
supported the boycott of Colorado.
While it is hard to estimate how much
financial damage Colorado has suf-
fered, The New York Times has
tagged the loss at more than $100
Groups as wide-ranging as the
National Mayors Council and the
National Council for Social Studies
have canceled conventions sched-
uled in Colorado this year. Numer-
ous cities, including Atlanta, New
York, San Francisco, Seattle and
Ann Arbor have announced that no
employees on city business will
travel to Colorado.
In the next two years, at least 14
states, including Michigan, will con-
lar to Colorado's Amendment 2.
"There's certainly room to work in a
positive bipartisan way,"she said.
But Stabenow said it was unwise
to rely on voter approval of an in-
crease in the sales tax to 6 percent*
from 4 percent without having a
Other taxes, including an income
tax increase or expanding the base of
the sales tax, could be put in place by
lawmakers in the event the sales tax
failed, she said.
Although Engler promised voters
a $300 million net tax cut or about
$356 per household, Stabenow said
they would end up paying $500 mil-
lion more in income taxes to the fed-
eral government. That's because prop-
erty taxes that are deductible on fed-
eral returns would be replaced by
taxes that are not deductible.
Part of the property tax savings
could evaporate if local governments
raise taxes to make up for $700 mil-
lion in revenue sharing Engler is pro-*
posing eliminating, Cherry said.
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