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Last Updated: Monday, 3 January, 2005, 16:51 GMT
US embassy bomb plot trial opens
Hooded suspect Johann Bonte arrives in court
Suspect Johann Bonte is Beghal's brother-in-law
A group of six suspected militant Islamists has gone on trial in Paris on charges of planning a bomb attack against the US embassy in France.

The alleged organiser, Djamel Beghal - a French-Algerian - was arrested in Dubai in 2001.

According to the authorities there, Mr Beghal confessed, and said the idea had come from Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda network in Afghanistan.

But he has withdrawn that statement, saying it was extracted by torture.

Mr Beghal also allegedly identified the professional football player Nizar Trabelsi as the chosen suicide bomber.

The US embassy in Paris
The US embassy in Paris - allegedly the bombers' target
Mr Trabelsi is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence in Belgium, on other charges.

The plot is reported to have included plans to target a US cultural centre in Paris as well as the US embassy.

Mr Trabelsi's alleged task was to enter the US embassy, just off the Place de la Concorde, with explosives strapped to his body, and blow himself up.

A van packed with explosives would have been driven separately to the US cultural centre, also in the heart of Paris, and detonated.

Trabelsi, who denies the claim, is currently in jail in Belgium for planning to bomb a military base on an al-Qaeda mission.

Mr Beghal is accused of recruiting members for his network in the southern suburbs of Paris, including his brother-in-law Johann Bonte, who is also on trial.

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