Page last updated at 14:04 GMT, Monday, 22 September 2008 15:04 UK

Alaskan senator's trial under way

Ted Stevens speaking in Alaska on 19 Sep
Ted Stevens is keen to clear his name before November's election

Jury selection is beginning in the trial of Senator Ted Stevens, accused of lying about thousands of dollars in gifts from an Alaska oil service firm.

Mr Stevens, the longest-serving Republican in the Senate and bidding for re-election in November, has insisted he is innocent.

The 150 potential jurors are being questioned on their suitability for the trial, set to last a month.

Mr Stevens, 84, was present in court ahead of the proceedings.

The senator is accused of failing to disclose $250,000 (135,000) of work done on his house free of charge by employees of the Veco oil company that normally builds pipelines and processing equipment.

Veco CEO Bill Allen, who pleaded guilty to bribery charges in May 2007, has previously testified that he arranged for employees of his company to assist Mr Stevens with renovations to his house in Girdwood, Alaska.

Mr Stevens has pleaded not guilty, saying he has "never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a US senator".

He has called on people to reserve judgement until all the evidence is heard.

Mr Stevens has continued to campaign since he was indicted in July.

His Senate seat is up for grabs in November's election and polls suggest he is facing a tough battle against his Democratic challenger, Mark Begich, if he is to secure an eighth term.

Alaska senator charged over gifts
29 Jul 08 |  Americas
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