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Widow spending 9/11 anniversary in court with accused terrorists

Lost her partner when World Trade Center was destroyed

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Ellen Judd, whose spouse Chris Egan was killed in the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers in NYC. During the week of the 17th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, Judd will be a guest observer at the military court in US base Guantanamo Bay where the accused in the terror attacks are being tried.</p>

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Ellen Judd, whose spouse Chris Egan was killed in the 9-11 attacks on the Twin Towers in NYC. During the week of the 17th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, Judd will be a guest observer at the military court in US base Guantanamo Bay where the accused in the terror attacks are being tried.

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/9/2018 (623 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On Tuesday, 17 years to the day after terrorists attacked the U.S. and killed her partner, Winnipeg’s Ellen Judd will be at a U.S. military base for the trial of some of the accused.

"I don’t think this is anything anybody really wants to do," said Judd, whose spouse, Chris Egan, was visiting her brother at work in the World Trade Center that day and was among the 2,976 people murdered during the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

It’s the second time Judd has travelled to the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to observe U.S. military commission pre-trial hearings that have been going on since 2012.

Alleged mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and four accomplices are accused of conspiring with the hijackers who killed 2,976 people on Sept. 11, 2001, and could face military execution if they are convicted.

It’s been six years since the detainees were charged and their trial isn’t expected to begin until at least 2020.

The proceedings have been bogged down by pre-trial motions and court challenges.

Now, the judge who’s presided over the case since 2012 has retired. The judge taking over reportedly has six years of motions, 20,000-plus pages of pre-trial transcripts and a classified record of unknown size.

Since the case began, close family members of the victims and some of the survivors have been invited to attend the proceedings in person for a week at a time. Judd went last year with a small group of observers who flew to Cuba on a military charter from an air force base outside Washington, D.C. She had an opportunity to return this week and accepted.

"It’s the most visible part of a long process," Judd said.

On Tuesday, the anniversary of 9/11, a memorial walk has been planned for the families and survivors attending the proceedings in Guantanamo. The very-private Judd isn’t planning to participate.

"I’ll probably keep somewhat to myself," she said. "I’m taking some literature that Chris likes — a novel written by an author from Yorkshire."

Judd said she does attend events held in Egan’s memory and went to the 10th anniversary memorial in New York, but shies away from public 9/11 memorials.

"I’m not comfortable with them."

She avoids 9/11 anniversary coverage on TV. "I prefer not to watch," she said. "You have to work hard to avoid it."

She is not avoiding the past, though.

"With things like this, one doesn’t easily have a choice to walk away," Judd said before leaving for Cuba, where those accused of killing her spouse wait for their trial to begin.

"Since these processes are underway, I feel I should be spending some time holding people to account and exploring how to do that."

After 17 years, it’s fair to ask "what does this process accomplish?" said Judd, who has an answer.

"It requires us to pay attention to how things like this in the world are possible and what we can do about them — to try to find better ways going forward," the anthropology professor at the University of Manitoba said.

"Guantanamo Bay offers us this window into what to do when such terrible events happen."

The violent response to 9/11 and the establishment of "Gitmo," where detainees face military execution, have contributed to more violence around the world, she said, rather than reducing it.

"The notion that one meets violence with violence is a problem," Judd said.

"How could we do something better? What if justice meant working to heal our world and ourselves?"

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

Read full biography

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History

Updated on Monday, September 10, 2018 at 7:27 AM CDT: Changes headline

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