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Last Updated: Monday, 29 September, 2003, 16:07 GMT 17:07 UK
Moroccan girls face royal charge

By Sebastian Usher
BBC, Rabat

Three teenage Moroccan girls, two of them twin sisters, are facing a new charge of planning attacks on the Moroccan king and his family following the resumption of their trial on terrorism charges.

The three 14-year-old girls were already facing grave charges of planning suicide attacks on the Moroccan parliament building and a supermarket selling alcohol in Rabat.

King Mohammed VI
Could the girls have had the capacity to attack the King?
But sources at the first hearing of their trial on Friday say that the girls are now also accused of planning to attack King Mohammed and other members of the Moroccan royal family.

No details have emerged of what their alleged plot amounted to, but it has added a new twist to what was already set to be a sensational trial.

Sensitivities

As a sign of how sensitive the case is, the Moroccan authorities have decided that the girls should be tried separately from 18 other adult suspects, who the police say were implicated in the plot and their trial will be held behind closed doors.

The girls were arrested at the start of the month.

Casablanca bomb debris
Hundreds were rounded up after May's attacks
The police say they were alerted by a request from the girls to their local Imam for formal sanction of their plans.

According to the police they were just days away from carrying out an attack when they were arrested.

There has been a mixed reaction to their case here, with some Moroccans seeing it as confirmation of just how big a threat Islamic extremism poses.

This is a country still coming to terms with the suicide bombings in May that killed 45 people in Casablanca.

But others question the likelihood of three impoverished girls, barely into their teens, having the capacity, even if they had the intention, of carrying out such ambitious attacks.




SEE ALSO:
Three get life in Morocco trial
19 Sep 03  |  Africa
Country profile: Morocco
18 Jul 03  |  Country profiles
Moroccans' fair trial concerns
18 Sep 03  |  Africa


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