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Friday, 5 October, 2001, 14:56 GMT 15:56 UK
Terror suspect refused bail
Lotfi Raissi
Lotfi Raissi (right) arrives in court last Friday
An Algerian pilot accused of training four of the suicide hijackers who carried out the US terror attacks has been refused bail and remanded in custody for a further three weeks.

Lotfi Raissi, 27, who was living at Colnbrook near Heathrow airport when he was arrested, has denied any involvement in the 11 September atrocities.

The special session of Bow Street magistrates court, held near Belmarsh high-security prison in London, was part of an extradition hearing brought by the US.

The US Government prosecutor, Arvinda Sambei, said Mr Raissi, who made a brief appearance in court, had lied in obtaining his pilot's licence.

From October 1997 to June this year, there were records that show a huge and unusual number of flying hours for a man with his qualifications

US Government prosecutor, Arvinda Sambei

But she said this was essentially a holding charge, pending further investigations.

Ms Sambei added that Mr Raissi had taught the hijackers at a training school in Arizona between 1997 and earlier this year.

Those allegedly trained by him included the pilot of the flight that crashed into the Pentagon, the court was told.

"On at least three specific occasions, they trained together," Ms Sambei said.

Ms Sambei also alleged that Mr Raissi had paid for three men to have sessions in a flight simulator.

And she said that when his pilot's logbook was found at his home address, there were gaps of several months when it appeared he had not been flying but independent records showed he had.

'No evidence'

Ms Sambei told the court: "From October 1997 to June this year, there were records that show a huge and unusual number of flying hours for a man with his qualifications."

But Hugo Keith, defending, said there was no evidence that Mr Raissi had been involved in the events of 11 September.

Mr Raissi yawned as he was led away from the dock.

He will next appear in court on 26 October.

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