9/11 Families Press Court to Get List of Victim's Kin

Several relatives of the victims of the September 11 attacks went to court Wednesday to get access to a New York City-maintained list of next of kin for all those killed in the attacks.

The hearing, which was technically about public-records law, was an emotional debate over the future of 9,000 pieces of unidentified remains. The relatives' lawyers argued they needed the list to poll families. They are proposing the list be released to a retired judge who would sent out a letter explaining the plan for the remains and asking for opinions.

But a lawyer for the city said releasing the list would invade the privacy of people whose identities became the government's business only through the tragedy.

The judge did not immediately rule on the matter, or give a timeframe for when a ruling would come.

The 17 relatives who went to court oppose a plan to put the unidentified remains 70 feet underground in the subterranean museum, behind a wall inscribed with a quote from Virgil. The remains wouldn't be visible to the public, and a private room would be set aside for families. They see the nonprofit museum as commercially minded. Instead they want the remains to be placed in a separate space on the memorial plaza above.

The city and memorial foundation โ€” which has some victims' relatives on its board โ€” have said they conducted an extensive effort to include families in planning and the arrangement, adding the plan has been known for years and pointing to various plans, mailings and other documents dating back to 2004.

Remains have never been identified for more than 1,100 victims.

With the Associated Press