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Last Updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2005, 10:02 GMT
Jackson in court for abuse trial
Michael Jackson arrives in court
Jackson was accompanied by his defence team
Pop icon Michael Jackson has been in court in California to see the jury being selected for his trial on charges of child molestation.

Dressed all in white, the singer waved at crowds of screaming fans outside the court in Santa Maria, California.

By the end of the day, more than 300 people had been asked whether they would be able to spend up to six months serving on the jury.

Mr Jackson, 46, denies 10 counts of child abuse and one of conspiracy.

If convicted, he could face a maximum 21 years in prison.

Before entering the courthouse in Santa Maria, Mr Jackson gave a brief peace sign to dozens of fans who had travelled from around the world to offer their support.

But unlike his appearance here a year ago, there was no theatricality and no dancing on cars, says the BBC's James Coomarasamy in Santa Maria.

The scene was repeated as he left the courthouse for lunch. At the end of the day, he gave a brief peace sign from his car.

Jury panel

Opening statements are still several weeks away, as jury selection could take up to a month to complete.

The would-be jurors came face-to-face with the singer in groups of 150.

I know my son, and this is ridiculous
Katherine Jackson

More than 175 potential jurors said they were willing to serve, but 140 others said they were unable to do so, and asked to be excused.

Those who were not excused were given seven-page questionnaires about the case and told to return next week.

Judge Rodney Melville warned them that the trial would take up to six months and that their lives would be seriously disrupted.

He will question them individually as prosecution and defence teams work to agree on a final panel of 12, with eight reserves.

The court sessions will not be televised, but media organisations have been gearing up for blanket coverage in what has been coined the "celebrity trial of the century".

More than 1,000 journalists applied for accreditation to cover the trial.

Video plea

Hours before it was due to begin, Michael Jackson's parents went on television to defend their son.

His mother, Katherine, told CBS television: "I know my son, and this is ridiculous."

Michael Jackson fans outside the Santa Maria courthouse
The singer's fans gathered outside from the early morning

Joe Jackson, Michael's father, said his son's accuser was motivated by greed.

On Sunday, Mr Jackson made an impassioned video plea on his website for a fair hearing.

The pop icon said he would be "acquitted and vindicated when the truth is told", and condemned recent media leaks in his case as "disgusting and false".

The indictment stems from accusations made by a now 15-year-old boy.

Charges were brought in December 2003 after police raided Mr Jackson's ranch.

Prosecutors accuse Mr Jackson of plying the boy with alcohol to seduce him. He is also accused of conspiring to kidnap the boy and his family.

Mr Jackson's team has dismissed the allegations as a "big lie" concocted by the accuser's family, which they claim is driven by greed.

More details of Michael Jackson's court appearence

Michael Jackson on trial

Michael Jackson Jackson show
How the star's style has changed during lengthy trial








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