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Last Updated: Friday, 28 May, 2004, 09:02 GMT 10:02 UK
Australian guilty of embassy plot
Jack Roche (file photo)
Roche had earlier claimed he was innocent
A British-born Muslim convert has been convicted of plotting to blow up Israel's embassy in Australia after he changed his plea to guilty.

Jack Roche, 50, had earlier told the court he agreed to conduct surveillance of the embassy for al-Qaeda and Asian militant group Jemaah Islamiah (JI).

He said he had feared for his life if he did not carry out the task, but had never agreed to bomb the building.

Roche is due to be sentenced on Tuesday and faces up to 25 years in jail.

When the charge of conspiracy was put to him again on Friday, the 10th day of his trial, and he was asked how he pleaded, he replied: "Guilty".

JACK ROCHE
50-year-old Muslim convert born in Hull, northern England as Paul Holland
Admits being a former JI member
Denies charges of attempted terrorism
Insists Abu Bakar Ba'asyir headed militant group JI

The court then asked the jury to convict him.

Outside the court, his defence lawyer, Hylton Quail, said he knew Roche would plead guilty on Friday morning.

"It was his [Roche's] instructions to me this morning that that's what he wanted to do and that's what he's done," Mr Quail said.

Roche went to Afghanistan in March 2000, where he received explosives training and met Osama Bin Laden.

He said that upon his return to Australia, he went to Canberra and filmed outside the Israeli embassy in June 2000, but never agreed to bomb it.

Roche said Indonesian cleric Abu Bakar Ba'asyir - who he claims headed JI - eventually told him to halt his plans following disagreements within the group.

Roche said he became disillusioned, and went to the US consulate in Sydney to tell them what he knew, but the embassy directed him to the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), where "nobody seemed particularly interested in what was going on".

'Tired and depressed'

After Roche pleaded guilty on Friday, his Indonesian wife said that he was tired and depressed after the previous day's cross-examination.

"He doesn't want to speak anymore. You know, he's (a) human being," she said, in tears. "I don't know, maybe the prosecutor is not human... he just asked again and again and again," the Associated Press quoted her as saying.

Roche was arrested in raids by the Australian police following the Bali bombing in late 2002 which targeted suspected sympathisers of JI.

Born in Hull, northern England, he converted to Islam more than a decade ago and has been living in Perth in Western Australia for several years.


SEE ALSO:
Australian suspect 'feared for life'
27 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Radical cleric 'stopped bomb plot'
26 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Profile: Abu Bakar Ba'asyir
29 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Jemaah Islamiah still a threat
15 Aug 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesian cleric faces Bali charge
30 Apr 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Court told of Sydney games plot
19 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific
Australian 'trained by al-Qaeda'
17 May 04  |  Asia-Pacific


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