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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 December, 2004, 09:21 GMT
Judge releases 'Bin Laden guard'
Moroccan terror suspect arrested in the Canary island on 17 December
Moroccan terror suspects have been arrested in Spain in recent days
A Moroccan suspected of being Osama bin Laden's former bodyguard has been released before trial in Rabat.

The case against Abdellah Tabarak, 49, and four other Moroccans was postponed until 27 December. Two of the accused were refused provisional release.

The five are accused of belonging to a criminal gang and for failing to report criminal plans to the state.

They were held for two years at the US base in Guantanamo Bay and handed over to the Moroccan authorities in August.

There have been hundreds of trials on terrorism charges in Morocco since Islamic militants carried out an attack in Casablanca last year, in which scores of people died.


The judge in the Moroccan capital did not give a reason for the provisional release of the trio, who were expected to leave jail on Monday night.

Under the rules, the men will be monitored by authorities and cannot travel abroad, Reuters news agency reports.

Policemen inspect wrecked terrace of Casa de Espana restaurant
The Casablanca attacks rocked the normally peaceful kingdom
The case, which had resumed on Monday after a two-week postponement requested by the defence, was adjourned to allow more time for the suspects' lawyers, Reuters says.

The BBC's Pascale Harter in Rabat says the charges may be relatively minor, but the trial is more high-profile than most of the terror cases in the past year.

US State Department memos allege that Mr Tabarak was the former bodyguard of the al-Qaeda leader and helped the Saudi militant to escape from Afghanistan.

Rabat will be keen to play up this link to re-enforce their message that Moroccans are being recruited by international terrorist gangs, our correspondent says.

Morocco is keen to portray itself as a victim of terrorism, rather than a source, she adds.

Moroccan militants have been arrested in connection with the attacks on the Spanish capital Madrid in March and the murder of Dutch film-maker Theo van Gogh in November.

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