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Last Updated: Monday, 3 March 2008, 16:03 GMT
Court bans veiled terror suspect
A Muslim woman shortly before she was excluded from court in Austria
Mona S. told the court in Vienna there were too many men there
An Austrian court has excluded a young Muslim woman from the start of her trial on terrorism charges because she refused to remove her full-face veil.

The suspect, identified as Mona S, is charged, along with her husband Mohamed M, with links to al-Qaeda and posting a threatening video on the internet.

The presiding judge ordered the woman to be escorted from the court, arguing the jury could not judge her without seeing her face.

Both suspects deny the charges.

Arriving at the court in Vienna, the young woman refused to take off her full-covering niqab because she said there were "too many men here".

Mona S's defence lawyer argued that her trial could be prejudiced.

'Targets mentioned'

The couple, both Austrian citizens of Arab descent, were arrested in September 2007 after a video was posted on the internet threatening attacks in Austria and Germany if military personnel were not withdrawn from Afghanistan.

The video was signed "Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF)".

The authorities say that the man mentioned possible targets such as the Euro 2008 football championship in internet chat groups frequented by radical Islamists. The woman is alleged to have translated Arabic texts into German.

The couple's lawyer argued that GIMF was not a terrorist organisation and there was not the slightest evidence that the couple had any link to al-Qaeda.

The couple are married under Islamic law, but not under Austrian law, the court heard.

If found guilty, they could face up to ten years in prison. A verdict is expected later this week.


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