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330 SUSPECTS ON TRIAL IN SAUDI ARABIA

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A court in Saudi Arabia has issued, on Wednesday 07/08/2009, verdicts, prosecutors say, in what is thought to be the first terrorism trial for Al Qaeda militants in the kingdom.

Justice ministry officials say 330 had been on trial, but they did not specify how many had been found guilty. One defendant was given a death sentence.

A spokesman quoted by AP news agency said the defendants had faced changes of belonging to “the deviant group”, used to denote Al Qaeda. They were accused of supporting and financing terrorism, going to areas of conflict to fight, and conspiracy to create chaos and disrupt security, he said.

The charges came with “incriminating evidence… and proof that every defendant has carried out the charges against him”, he added.

Last October, Saudi Interior Minister Nayef bin Abdul Aziz announced that charges had been laid against 991 suspected Al Qaeda militants (see – Saudia 10.21.08). Analysts said until then the government had been reluctant to try suspected militants, fearing a backlash by domestic sympathisers.
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