HAMBURG, Germany -- Relatives of September 11 victims travelled to Germany to confront the only man to appear in court in connection with the killings.

Mounir El Motassadeq, who is on trial for his alleged role in sending money to the suspected hijackers, on Thursday faced five relatives of those who died in the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. The accused, who says he is innocent, could be sentenced to life if found guilty by Hamburg's Higher Regional Court.

Stephen Push, whose wife died on the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon, said he had been robbed of the "best" half of her life.

He told the five judges he would lie awake at night wondering how his wife had suffered, whether she had been killed quickly by attackers sitting next to her or had time to take in her imminent death.

Push told of their hopes of retiring together in California and of her dream of writing a novel.

"She was only 42-years-old. The terrorists stole half of her life. I believe it would have been the better half," Reuters quoted Push as saying.

He added: "I am testifying because I believe, before the court delivers its verdict, it should hear the human side of the tragedy.

"I believe the punishment for the crime should be commensurate with the magnitude of the pain and suffering."

The five Americans are co-plaintiffs in the case.

Maureen Fanning, whose firefighter husband was killed trying to save lives in the World Trade Center, told how she struggled to make their two autistic sons understand how their father had died when the second tower fell.

"The boys have very little in their lives. They cannot read or write. They have no friends ringing on the doorbells. They had Jack to enter the door with a smile. That was stolen from them on September 11," she said of her 54-year-old husband, a decorated fire department battalion chief.

"The defendant has chosen to associate himself with the forces of evil. Under the guise of religion he has shown himself to be educated and brainwashed in hate and evil," she said, demanding the accused be imprisoned for life.

Prosecutors, who are expected to conclude their case soon, say Motassadeq was a vital cog in the Hamburg al Qaeda cell, run by Mohamed Atta, who U.S. authorities believe flew the first plane which smashed into the World Trade Center.

Lawyers for the 28-year-old Moroccan electrical engineering student say he did little more than befriend the Hamburg-based attackers and help some out as fellow Muslims.

He is the only man to have been brought to trial for his alleged role in the deaths, and is charged with being an accessory to 3,045 murders in New York and Washington.
Thursday, January 30, 2003 Posted: 9:37 AM EST (1437 GMT

Fanning, left, and Push, arrive at the Hamburg court