Accused protest in Spanish bomb plot trial

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MADRID, Oct 16 (Reuters) Thirty men accused of plotting Islamist suicide bomb attacks protested in a Spanish court room today, forcing the judge to suspend the trial and ask the police to restore order.

The defendants, mainly Moroccans and Algerians, stood up to show their support for one of their number who had complained about rough treatment by police on the way to the courthouse.

''Now you know not to mess with me,'' said Judge Alfonso Guevara.

Guevara ordered police to ''use all the force necessary to maintain order'', briefly suspending the second day of the trial.

The men are accused of being part of an al Qaeda cell that plotted to blow up the High Court as well as a train station and the headquarters of the conservative opposition Popular Party.

They all deny the charges, and say they do not even know each other. One said he was ''just a junky'' -- too engrossed in his illegal drug habit to get involved in plots.

But Judge Guevara said the protest showed they could act as a group.

''I'm not dumb ... I notice everything, and someone gave an order for the others to stand up,'' he said.

The men were arrested in October 2004, seven months after an unrelated group, inspired by al Qaeda, killed 191 people with simultaneous bombings on Madrid commuter trains.

REUTERS GL PM1810

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