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Three deny terrorism charges in Bosnia court

By Staff
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SARAJEVO, May 3 (Reuters) Three men arrested in Bosnia last year pleaded not guilty today to charges of buying explosives and weapons to carry out suicide attacks on Western targets in Europe.

''These are all false accusations and I am not guilty,'' 19-year-old Swedish citizen Mirsad Bektasevic told the state court.

Bektasevic and Turk Cesur Abdulkadir, 21, arrived in Sarajevo late last year to plan an attack aimed at forcing Bosnia or another, unidentified, European government to withdraw its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the indictment.

Bajro Ikanovic, a 29-year-old Bosnian, helped them buy 20 kg of explosives which they prepared to turn into a so-called ''suicide belt'', the indictment said.

The hearing was adjourned after the pleas were heard and Judge Mehmed Sator said the court would schedule the first full session in two or three months.

In a videotape found by the police in October in one of the suspects' safe houses, men in balaclavas show how to make a bomb.

''This weapon will be used against Europe, against those whose forces are in Iraq and Afghanistan,'' they said in the tape.

Sarajevo police arrested the two men as they were about to complete their preparations.

Mobile phone records showed that Bektasevic, codenamed ''Maximus'', was communicating with a man later arrested in Denmark on suspicion of terrorism activities, the indictment said. Two other men arrested in Britain on terrorism charges were also said to have links with Bektasevic.

Bosnia's liberal Muslims make up almost half the population.

Since the September 11 attacks on the United States, the activities of hundreds of former Islamist fighters who stayed in Bosnia after the war have been watched closely.

REUTERS KD PM1624

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