9/11 families press fight over remains at museum

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 9, 2013 at 10:05 pm •  Published: January 9, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) — In an emotionally loaded legal case, some Sept. 11 families on Wednesday pressed on with their fight to keep unidentified remains of the dead from being stored in the museum at the World Trade Center site.

The group has filed a lawsuit seeking contact information for families of all the 9/11 victims — to poll them about how the remains should be handled.

"This information can't go to the 9/11 museum, and not to us," said attorney Norman Siegel, who represents 17 members of 10 families named in the suit.

The case is "unique," Siegel said, because the remains in question have not been identified — and may never be, despite progress using advancing scientific methods. Therefore, it's more difficult to apply existing laws giving relatives rights over remains.

"The question is, who owns the unidentified remains?" the attorney asked.

Siegel first filed a Freedom of Information Law request for the contact information in June 2011. The city maintains that releasing it would violate family privacy.

A Manhattan State Supreme Court judge denied the request on the same grounds, and Siegel filed with the Appellate Division in Manhattan.

Oral arguments before five judges were heard on Wednesday.

Siegel cited the principle of so-called selective disclosure — in this case, of the contact information. He said the 14th Amendment guarantees equal protection under the law. He said he hopes for a decision from the judges in about a month.

Officials plan to take the remains seven stories below ground and place them behind a wall of the new museum that's under construction.

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