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Radical Cleric on Trial in London

January 10, 2006|From Reuters

LONDON — The trial of cleric Abu Hamza al Masri on charges of stirring up racial hatred and urging the killing of non-Muslims opened Monday in a London court.

Masri, 47, is the best-known figure to be tried for such offenses in Britain since the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.

The Egyptian-born cleric faces nine counts of using public meetings to incite followers to kill non-Muslims. Four other charges allege that he urged the killing of Jews.

He is also accused of using threatening, abusive or insulting behavior with intent to stir up racial hatred, along with one charge of possessing threatening, abusive or insulting recordings and another of violating anti-terrorism laws.

If found guilty, Masri, who has lost both hands and an eye, faces a maximum lifetime sentence.

On Monday, Masri appeared at London's Old Bailey courthouse flanked by three security guards as a jury of eight men and four women was sworn in.

The prosecution is expected to outline its case Wednesday, and the trial is expected to last three weeks.

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