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Wednesday, 12 February, 2003, 06:26 GMT
Australian denies bomb plot
Bali bombing aftermath
Roche was arrested in raids following the Bali bombing
A British-born man has pleaded not guilty to two charges of planning to blow up Israeli diplomatic premises in Australia.

Jack Roche
Roche: defended Osama Bin Laden as "innocent until proven guilty"
Jack Roche, 49 years old and an Australian citizen, appeared in court in Perth Magistrates Court via videolink as his lawyer entered pleas on his behalf.

He is alleged to have conspired with others in Malaysia, Pakistan and Afghanistan to blow up the Israeli embassy in Canberra and the Israeli consulate in Sydney between 15 February and 26 May 2000.

Neither attack was carried out.

If found guilty, Mr Roche could face a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison for plotting to damage property and 25 years for conspiring to harm diplomatic staff.

He was later remanded in custody until 1 May, when he will appear before a higher court.

Al-Qaeda 'links'

Mr Roche was arrested 18 November last year following an earlier raid on his home - one of a series by Australian police in the wake of the 12 October bombings in the Indonesian resort of Bali, in which nearly 200 people died.

Jack Roche
In interviews after the raids, Mr Roche said that after converting to Islam 10 years ago, he had been sent to Afghanistan to learn to make bombs.

He also said he was a supporter of Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir - the alleged spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiah, a militant group that has been linked to the Bali bombing.

In an interview with an Australian radio station, Mr Roche said he met Mr Ba'asyir in the mid-1990s when the cleric visited Australia.

"I liked what he was saying. It was very clear. It all made sense," he told the radio.

Mr Roche also defended Osama Bin Laden, saying he was "innocent until proven guilty".

Mr Roche's defence lawyer, however, says he has no information on whether his client trained with any terrorist organisations.

See also:

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