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Wednesday, 26 June, 2002, 01:19 GMT 02:19 UK
Al-Qaeda suspects due in Morocco court
The three Saudi suspects: Abdullah Mesfer Ali al-Ghamdi, Zouhair Hilal and Hilal El-Assiri
The Saudi suspects: Abdullah Mesfer Ali al-Ghamdi, Zouhair Hilal and Hilal El-Assiri (AFP)

Seven alleged al-Qaeda members accused of planning attacks against British and American warships in the Gibraltar Straits are due to appear in front of an examining magistrate in Casablanca.

The lawyer for six of the accused says they will plead not guilty to all the charges.

Three Saudi men, their Moroccan wives and another Moroccan man are being charged on nine counts, ranging from attempted murder to forging documents.

The prosecution claims the Saudis, with the help of the Moroccans, planned to blow up Nato warships in the Straits of Gibraltar, as well as attack buses in Morocco and a mosque in the centre of the city of Marrakech.

'Abuse' claims

The lawyer for six of the suspects says the Saudis admit having been members of al-Qaeda in the past, but he says they renounced the organisation after the 11 September attacks and came to Morocco to live a quiet life.

He says they were beaten in custody and forced to sign statements they had not even read.

The seven will be questioned in a closed court by the examining magistrate, whose findings will form the basis of the prosecution.

The trial itself will take place in open court some time over the next two weeks.

Morocco is also reported to be holding several other al-Qaeda suspects, including a man believed to be a senior member of the organisation.

It is reported that these suspects are being detained without charge and are being interrogated by the CIA, similar to those suspects being held by the United States at its base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.


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12 Jun 02 | Africa
11 Jun 02 | Africa
11 Jun 02 | Americas
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