November 17, 2009 / 3:06 PM / 11 years ago

Banks hit by 9/11 repulsed by trial plan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The heads of two investment banks that lost many employees in the September 11 attacks said they were repulsed by the possibility that a trial might give the accused plotters a public platform for their views.

Howard Lutnick, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cantor Fitzgerald, L.P., speaks at the Reuters Global Finance Summit in New York, November 16, 2009. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

While neither Howard Lutnick, chief executive of Cantor Fitzgerald, nor James Dunne, senior managing principal of Sandler O’Neill, condemned the plan for a trial near where the World Trade Center once stood, they said giving the accused such a stage would be upsetting.

“The concept of this being a circus just nauseates me. I can’t get my head around it,” Lutnick said at the Reuters Global Finance Summit in New York.

Dunne said he was in favor of “the quickest and most expedient way for justice to be done, which would be their death.”

Cantor, a closely held partnership, lost 658 of its 960 New York employees in the September 11 attacks. Cantor occupied floors 101 and 103-105 of the 110-story North Tower of the World Trade Center, along with sister firms eSpeed and TradeSpark.

Sandler O’Neill, a privately held investment bank, lost 66 of its 171 employees in the attacks, including Herman Sandler and Chris Quackenbush, two of the three executives who ran the firm. The bank had offices on the 104th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center.

“Giving these people a microphone and giving them a stage is repulsive to me,” said Dunne, whose voice cracked when he spoke about Herman Sandler at the summit earlier on Monday. “But if that is the quickest way to bring them to justice, then I am for it.”

Former Merrill Lynch Chief Executive John Thain, who was at Goldman Sachs then and witnessed the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, did not like the idea of having the trial in New York either.

“Bringing back those memories and centering that back here is really hard on the people who have experienced that,” Thain said on Tuesday. “I don’t really understand why that was necessary.”

Five men, including the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, will be brought to New York from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to face trial in a criminal court, the Obama administration said last week.

The September 11 attacks destroyed the World Trade Center’s twin towers in lower Manhattan and killed nearly 3,000 people.

“To the best of my knowledge, these people have already admitted and bragged about being involved in the 9/11 attacks,” Dunne said.

Legal experts need to find the quickest way of “sending them on to their maker,” he said. “If that means they have to come to New York and we have to go through that, fine. If we could just do it today down in Guantanamo, that would be fine.”

Reporting by Paritosh Bansal and Steve Eder, editing by Matthew Lewis

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