GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA (WJHG/WECP) -- On the first day of the pre-trial hearings for the five alleged 9/11 planners, Michael Salamone stood in the rear of the courtroom.
“When I first saw them, and I went over and I got a close look, I got really emotional, on that first day," he said. "It wasn’t TV anymore, it was real life. These were the guys that murdered, not only my brother but 3,000 other people’s brothers and sisters. There was no way to prepare for that.”
He was mere feet from the men accused of plotting the attacks that killed his brother, and he was hoping to lock eyes with one of them. It happened three days in, when only Ramzi bin al Shibh was in court.
“During one of the breaks, he was there by himself," Salamone said. "And I stayed. And he turned around, and we locked eyes. I didn’t make any gestures at him, he didn’t make any at me. But there was no question that we locked eyes.”
Salamone traveled to Gitmo to represent his brother, John, who worked in the North Tower of the World Trade Center.
“We called him Johnny, no one called him John," he said. "He was the life of the room, no matter what room he was in. He was moving up fast at Cantor Fitzgerald, one of their main traders. He left behind three children.”
For the first time ever this week, videos from the September 11th attacks were shown in the courtroom.
“It’s a replay of the second my brother was murdered. When that second tower falls any way," he said.
As the defendants looked on, Salamone turned his focus toward them.
“I don’t know what I thought they were going to do," he said. "Were they going to raise their arms and cheer? Make an outburst? They didn’t. But yeah, I did I looked over, I wanted to see what their reaction was. In the small chance that they might actually put their head down and show remorse, but they also did not do that. From what I saw."
THOUGH PRE-TRIAL HEARINGS HAVE BEEN ONGOING FOR YEARS, HE’S HOPEFUL FOR THE PROSECUTION.
“I’m optimistic they’ll win a conviction. I’m optimistic they’ll get a death verdict.”
A VERDICT HE CALLS, THE ULTIMATE JUSTICE FOR THE MAN WHOSE BRIGHT FUTURE WAS CUT SHORT.
SALAMONE IS ONE OF 8 FAMILY MEMBERS ON THIS TRIP TO CUBA. THERE'S ALSO A 9/11 SURVIVOR, AND A COUPLE WHO LOST THEIR ONLY CHILD IN THE TERROR ATTACKS.