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The BBC's Ben Brown reports
"In court, the men had seemed to be relatively relaxed"
 real 28k

The BBC's Owen Bennett-Jones reports from Kabul
"The first hostages have just touched down on Afghan territory"
 real 28k

Monday, 14 February, 2000, 18:05 GMT
Hijack suspects held until March

Security van arrives at court A security van arrives with the alleged hijackers

Thirteen men accused of hijacking following the Stansted Airport hostage drama have been remanded in custody.

The men - aged between 18 and 36 - are all charged with seizing an aircraft and its passengers contrary to the Aviation Security Act of 1982.

Appearing relaxed before stipendiary magistrate Kevin Gray, sitting in Southend, Essex, 11 of the men were remanded until 13 March. Two others will reappear in court on 23 February.

The men, all bearded and dressed in prison issue tracksuits, spoke through interpreters only to confirm their names.

They were represented during the hour-long hearing by a total of nine British lawyers, whose pleas to prevent the publication of the men's identities was rejected by Mr Gray.

Interpreters told the court that 12 of the defendants spoke Farsi and one Pashtoo. Several of the men spoke a little English.

At least one man was said to have a wife and child among the plane's other passengers. All are believed to be seeking political asylum.

The court appearance came as more than 70 passengers from the hijack returned home to Afghanistan. Nearly 70 others are seeking asylum in the UK.

Fresh arrest

Meanwhile, another passenger from the plane has been arrested in connection with the hijacking.

Essex Police said the 41-year-old man was taken from the refugee holding centre at Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire, on Sunday for questioning about his involvement in the incident.

Those appearing court have been named by police as: Muhammad Sediqui, 36; Abdul Showaib, 20; Mohammad Safi, 32; Ali Safi, 34, Mohammad Sediqui, 30; Khalil Ullah, 30; Muhammad Kazem, 27; Waheed Lufti, 22; Reshad Ahmodi, 18; Nazamuddin Mohammidy, 26; Mohammed Showaib, 25; Taimur Shah, 28; and Ghayur Abdul, 24.

A police spokeswoman said other six men had been released without charge and had joined other hostages seeking asylum at Moreton-in-Marsh.

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See also:
13 Feb 00 |  South Asia
Hijack victims arrive in Afghanistan
14 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Pressure on Straw over asylum seekers
14 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
When a hostage becomes a refugee
10 Feb 00 |  UK
Hijack timetable

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