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Monday, 13 May, 2002, 12:30 GMT 13:30 UK
Klansman faces trial for church bombing
Bombing scene at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church
The attack was one of the worst of the civil rights era
A former member of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan movement is to stand trial on Monday over the 1963 bombing of a US church in which four black girls died.

Bobby Frank Cherry is accused of planting dynamite outside the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, in one of the deadliest racial attacks of the civil rights era.

It's been a long time, it's time this chapter comes to a close

Doug Jones, prosecutor
Three 14-year-olds and an 11-year-old were killed in the explosion.

Mr Cherry, 72, was initially ruled mentally unfit to face trial, but a judge reversed the decision earlier this year after examiners said Mr Cherry was faking his condition.

If convicted, the former Klansman faces life imprisonment.


Prosecutor Doug Jones said the wait for justice was almost over.

"It's been a long time. It's time this chapter comes to a close," he said.

Bobby Frank Cherry
Mr Cherry feigned mental illness

Among those expected to testify are Mr Cherry's granddaughter, Teresa Stacy, and his ex-wife, Willadean Towns.

Both have said Mr Cherry admitted his involvement in the attack.

Mr Cherry's lawyer is expected to call other relatives who will say they have never heard the former Klansman confess any connection to the bombing.

Mr Cherry was one of four men identified as suspects in the case by the FBI.

Fellow Klansman Thomas Blanton, was convicted on 2 May, 2001, for his role in the attack and sentenced to life imprisonment.

A third man, Robert Chambliss, was convicted of murder in 1977 and died in prison, while a fourth suspect died without being charged.

See also:

03 Jan 02 | Americas
Klansman 'fit for trial'
17 Jul 01 | Americas
Klansman 'unfit to face trial'
02 May 01 | Americas
KKK man gets life
16 Apr 01 | Americas
Racist church bombing trial opens
18 May 00 | Americas
Klansmen deny church bombing
18 May 00 | Americas
Two accused of racist bombing
22 Sep 00 | Americas
US report admits racism
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