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Last Updated: Monday, 2 June, 2003, 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK
Olympic bomb suspect in court
Shackled and wearing a bullet-proof vest, Rudolph is taken from Cherokee County Courthouse and jail in Murphy
Eric Rudolph is believed to have lived rough for years
The man accused of the Atlanta Olympics bombing has appeared in court, five years after he was charged.

Eric Rudolph, 36, had been on the run and was one of the US' most wanted fugitives before his arrest in the town of Murphy, north Carolina, on Saturday.

A court in the North Carolina town of Asheville decided he should first go on trial in Alabama where he is accused of bombing an abortion clinic before being moved to Atlanta.

If convicted, Mr Rudolph - who wore a bullet-proof vest and leg shackles during the 35-minute hearing - could face the death penalty.

He spoke only briefly during his court appearance, to confirm his identity.

'Opportunity for justice'

Assistant US attorney, Jill Rose, read out more than 20 charges against him.

He is accused of bombing an abortion clinic in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1998; the 1996 Olympic bombing and attacks on a gay nightclub and an office building housing an abortion clinic in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1997.

In all, two people were killed and around 150 people were injured.

John Ashcroft, the US Attorney General, said that trying Mr Rudolph in Alabama and then Georgia would "provide the best opportunity to bring justice to all of the victims of the bombings and to each community that experienced these attacks".

The authorities in Alabama say they are ready to proceed with the trial. "The case has been ready for some time," said FBI special agent, Craig Dahle in Birmingham.

"We'd be ready to go tomorrow if we had to."

FBI special agent Chris Swecker described him as "very calm" while in jail in Murphy and relieved to have regular contact with other people.

The former soldier and survivalist is thought to have spent the last five years hiding out in hills and caves.

Tourist attraction

He was arrested in Murphy - population 1,600 - just before dawn after a police officer saw him acting suspiciously near a Save-A-Lot supermarket.

Shopping centre in Murphy where Rudolph was arrested
The suspect was seen digging through a rubbish bin

Federal agents have spent the weekend examining the area and what is believed to have been his campsite in the hope of learning how Mr Rudolph evaded them for so long.

The Save-A-Lot supermarket has also become the target of a different sort - with a steady stream of tourists having their pictures taken beside the bin Mr Rudolph was thought to have rummaged through.

Mr Rudolph first came to the attention of investigators after a truck registered in his name was spotted leaving the scene of the Birmingham explosion.

It was the first bombing with which he was charged, and from that links were drawn with the Olympics attack.

Mr Rudolph is suspected of hiding a device in a knapsack which he then placed among the crowds at the Centennial Olympic Park on 27 July, 1996.

The fatal blast marred Atlanta's hosting of the Olympic Games and led to fears of domestic terrorism.




SEE ALSO:
Olympic bomb suspect arrested
31 May 03  |  Americas


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