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Last Updated: Friday, 25 May 2007, 22:01 GMT 23:01 UK
Moroccan terror trial postponed
Moroccans protest against terrorism
Authorities in Morocco are on high alert after recent suicide bombings
One of Morocco's biggest terror trials has been postponed in the city of Sale after opening for a day of hearings.

More than 50 defendants from a group called Ansar al-Mehdi are accused of plotting attacks on politicians, diplomats and tourists.

At least four new suspects - some said to be linked to foreign terror groups - were introduced on Friday. All defendants deny the charges.

The prosecution says the plot could have eclipsed 2003's Casablanca blasts.

The trial has already been adjourned three times over several months.

Moroccan authorities had previously insisted that the group had no links to foreign groups.

But one of the four new suspects was arrested in Libya, where he is alleged to have links to terrorist networks, while another, arrested in Morocco, is accused of ties to an Islamic militia in Somalia.

Three of the new suspects were in court on Friday. The man arrested in Libya was absent.

Defence lawyers say the new suspects have no connections to the case.

High alert

Earlier on Friday, the judge read out the charges separately to each of the defendants, saying they were accused of participating in a terrorist plot, being members of an illegal organisation and holding an unauthorised meeting.

The security services have alleged that Ansar al-Mehdi was planning to kidnap Moroccan government ministers, attack the US embassy in Rabat and target tourists.

The wives of two pilots with the national airline Royal Air Maroc are among the accused, some of whom have alleged they were tortured.

The authorities in Morocco are on high alert after five suicide bombers blew themselves up in Casablanca last month.


SEE ALSO
New suicide attacks hit Morocco
14 Apr 07 |  Middle East
Country profile: Morocco
06 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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