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Last Updated: Monday, 26 January, 2004, 09:13 GMT
Mombasa bomb suspects in court
Wreckage of the Paradise Hotel
The bombing devastated Kenya's tourist industry
Four men have appeared in court on murder charges relating to the 2002 suicide bombing of an Israeli-owned hotel in the Kenyan city of Mombasa.

Their trial was due to start on Monday but has been delayed until Wednesday due to legal wrangling.

The BBC's Grant Ferrett in Kenya says the four men appeared relaxed and smiling.

The attack on the Paradise Hotel in November 2002 killed at least 15 people - including three Israeli tourists.

The prosecution is expected to call more than 100 witnesses in an attempt to prove the men - all Kenyans - planned the attack and helped to assemble the bomb.

However, the men's lawyers say that the evidence against them is vague.

Defence lawyers asked the judge to give them time to vet three assessors who will assist the judge in reaching a verdict.

Airliner targeted

Most of the Kenyans who died in the bombing were members of a local dance group who were welcoming hotel guests.

A simultaneous rocket attack on an Israeli airliner that took off from Mombasa airport failed.

Defence lawyer Wandugi Karathe said on Sunday he considered the evidence against the men to be "very weak".

"I think they are bringing a case in order to, at least, have some people in custody while investigators look for the real culprits," he told French news agency AFP.

A group linked to Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which dealt a severe blow to Kenya's once thriving tourism industry.

Both the US and UK have since warned of the threat of more terror attacks in Kenya.

Three other Kenyans have been charged with conspiring to carry out the attacks, but are being tried separately.

Kenya protests at US warnings
04 Dec 03  |  Africa
Bombers 'planning Kenya attacks'
02 Dec 03  |  Africa
Kenya mourns a year after attack
28 Nov 03  |  Africa
Major attacks blamed on al-Qaeda
25 Nov 03  |  Middle East
Country profile: Kenya
22 Nov 03  |  Country profiles

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