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Monday, 13 August, 2001, 08:08 GMT 09:08 UK
Britons confess to Saudi bombings
One of Britons on Saudi TV
The men used maps and photos to describe the attacks
Three British men have been shown confessing on Saudi TV to three bombings between December last year and March this year.

The film showed the men giving details of the attacks - two in the capital, Riyadh, and a third in the eastern city of Khobar.

The blasts left two British men and one Egyptian injured.

Under Sharia law, the suspects could face execution, usually by beheading in Saudi Arabia, if convicted.

The UK Foreign Office named the men as Les Walker, Jamie Patrick Lee and James Cottle.

Their appearance follows similar statements on Saudi TV in February by three other expatriates regarding separate bombings in Saudi Arabia.

In November, I and James Cottle were recruited to carry out bombings in the Riyadh area and in the coastal area. In December, I and James Cottle received orders to carry out a bombing in the Khobar area

Jamie Patrick Lee

There are no details so far as to how the latest confessions were obtained, but correspondents say the men appeared calm as they described the bombings.

Their descriptions were almost identical. They said they had received orders - but did not say from whom - and that the two Riyadh bombings were carried out by remote control.

Saudi Arabia has been swept by a wave of bomb attacks in the past 10 months, but mystery surrounds the reason for it.

The suspects' respective governments and human rights organisations have protested against the showing of their confessions on television.

They also questioned whether the men had had access to a fair hearing.

Alleged feuds

The Saudis say they are linked to feuds amongst Western bootleggers, supplying alcohol to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries where it is banned.

Saudi bombings
17 November - Riyadh bomb blast kills one Briton, injures his wife
22 November - Riyadh bomb blast injures three Britons and Irish woman
15 December - Khobar bomb blast injures British man
10 January - Riyadh bomb blast causes damage but no casualties
15 March - Blast outside Riyadh bookstore injures Briton and Egyptian
15 May - Parcel bomb seriously injures an American

But there has also been speculation that the attacks may have been carried out by Islamist groups in Saudi Arabia, who feel the government has been too lax in its treatment of foreigners dealing in alcohol.

In February this year, three other expatriates - a Briton, a Canadian and a Belgian working in Saudi Arabia - were shown on Saudi television confessing to two bombings last November, in which a British man was killed.

Mr Walker linked the later bombing campaign to Sandy Mitchell - the Briton among those who made earlier televised confessions.

The UK Foreign Office, which has been in contact with the three Britons shown in the latest case, said it had received no date for a trial.

"We have been trying to establish why they are being held and were told on Saturday that this evidence was going to be made."

The apparent confessions relate to attacks which began in Khobar in December when an explosives-laden juice carton was placed on the windscreen of a Scotsman's car, blinding him in one eye.

A month later, another bomb exploded outside the Euromarche department store in Riyadh but no one was injured.

A Briton and an Egyptian were slightly hurt in a similar blast which occurred near the Jareer bookshop in March.

Saudi Arabia implements strict Islamic Sharia law and the punishment for alcohol trading includes jail sentences, flogging and deportation.

The BBC's Bridget Kendall
"They fit into a pattern of allegations and television confessions"
Sarah De Mas, of Fair Trials Abroad
"We're very concerned at the way these confessions were brought about"
See also:

12 Feb 01 | Scotland
Official visits bomb suspect Briton
08 Feb 01 | Middle East
Getting a drink in Saudi Arabia
05 Feb 01 | Middle East
Saudi bomb suspects may face execution
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Saudi Arabia
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