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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 17:03 GMT 18:03 UK
Suspects in court in media glare
By Danny Shaw
Home affairs correspondent, BBC News

Police officers
Eleven people have arrived in court to face charges

Eleven people accused of being involved in an alleged plot to blow up transatlantic planes have appeared in court amid intense media interest.

The hearings were complicated because of security factors and the need to give all the defendants adequate time to discuss matters with their solicitors.

They were scheduled to start at 10am but did not get under way properly until after midday and did not conclude until around 2.30pm.

The defendants were brought into court in groups. Each of the men was wearing a white T-shirt or sweatshirt and grey jogging bottoms.

They sat in the dock flanked by a handful of security officers. One or two of them smiled and waved at the public gallery.

Baby son

The only defendant allowed out of the dock was the youngest suspect - the 17-year-old, who was permitted to sit next to his solicitor, Gareth Peirce, on the back row of benches reserved for legal representatives.

Amongst the group of defendants was one woman, Cossar Ali.

She has an eight-month-old baby son and has been attempting to breastfeed him while in custody by expressing milk.

Dressed in a headscarf and shawl, she looked on as her solicitor applied for her to be released on bail but the application was refused and she was remanded in custody along with the other defendants.

Media glare

Mrs Ali, the 17-year-old and another defendant, Mehran Hussain, indicated through their lawyers that they would plead not guilty.

The proceedings were conducted in the full glare of the media and the court was packed with about 30 reporters.

Outside a row of photographers and camera operators stood behind a barrier waiting for security vans to come and go, hoping to get a shot of the defendants.

Most of the lawyers left without comment.

Police and Crown Prosecution Services representatives remained tight-lipped.

The court hearing was left to speak for itself.


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