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Sunday, 23 December, 2001, 01:47 GMT
Giuliani backs victims' claims fight
Debris of the WTC
The 11 September attack killed about 3,000 people
By the BBC's Malcolm Brabant

In New York, Mayor Rudolph Giuliani has thrown his weight behind families of victims of the 11 September attacks who are angry at the United States Government's proposals to compensate them.

Relatives are expected to receive on average $1.6m from a federal fund, but if they claim compensation, they will have to give up their rights to sue, to claim insurance and also to give up pension rights.

The compensation deal has been described as a slap in the face by Michael Cartier, who lost a brother in the World Trade Centre attacks.

Rudolph Giuliani
Giuliani: Hopes the US Government will change its mind on the deal
He heads a group called Give Your Voice, which represents 800 relatives of 11 September victims.

Mr Cartier says these families paid the ultimate price and are receiving pennies, while airlines in the United States were given $15bn by the federal government to help them survive the dramatic slump in passenger confidence.

The relatives are angry at the government's insistence that they waive the right to claim on insurance policies and other benefits if they opt for compensation.

Mr Giuliani has described this proviso as inappropriate and has expressed the hope that the government will change its mind before the regulations become final.

Emotions run high

The debate over the fund has become highly emotional, as lawyers and families wrestle over the impossible task of trying to place a monetary value on a human life.

Financial experts say the fund makes sense for poorer dependants whose breadwinners were low earners without big pensions or insurance policies.

But those with hefty policies and other benefits could lose out.

For example, a widow of a high-earning financial trader might expect to claim $10m in compensation from life insurance policies.

But if she went to the fund, she might get a tenth of that amount.

The average payout of $1.6m might sound substantial, but would barely purchase a decent three-bedroom apartment in New York's uptown residential areas.


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