A judge Thursday set a September 2006 trial date for five men accused of plotting to murder passengers on London’s transit system in a series of attempted bomb attacks.
The defendants appeared at London’s Central Criminal Court, the Old Bailey, via video link from a high-security prison.
The attempted near-simultaneous attacks on July 21 did not kill anyone but shook Britain’s capital two weeks after suicide attacks on the subway and bus system killed 52 people.
A day after the four failed attacks, anti-terror police shot and killed Brazilian Jean Charles de Menezes at a London subway station after mistaking him for a suicide bomber.
The July 21 attacks failed when explosives carried by four men at three subway stations and a bus station did not detonate as planned. A fifth suspect, Manfo Kwaku Asiedu, was arrested after a backpack of explosives was found in a raid.
The defendants are Muktar Said Ibrahim, 27; Ramzi Mohamed, 23; Yassin Omar, 24; Hussein Osman, 27, and Asiedu, 32.
They face attempted murder, conspiracy and explosives charges.
With the men appearing on two video screens, prosecutor Nigel Sweeney argued Thursday that their trial should be delayed as long as possible because of the need for detailed forensic analysis of the explosives, which he described as “hydro-peroxide devices.”
Police have said the bombers used a peroxide-based explosive called HMDT, or hexamethylene triperoxide diamine, that can be made using ordinary ingredients such as hair bleach.
Explosives evidence may be key
Sweeney said evidence about explosives would be a crucial issue, as would “the degree to which each explosive device can be tied to a specific defendant.”
Ethiopian-born Osman is alleged to have been captured on closed-circuit TV trying to bomb the Shepherd’s Bush subway station. He lost a two-month legal battle to avoid extradition from Italy. He has said through his lawyer that the bombing attempt was meant to scare people, not kill them.
After Thursday’s proceeding at the Old Bailey, 10 other people charged in connection with the failed attacks were to appear via video from the high-security Belmarsh Prison in southeast London, where all the defendants are being held.
The 10 include Osman’s wife, Yeshiemebet Girma, 29, and her sister, 21-year-old Mulumebet Girma, who are charged with failing to disclose information about Osman and with helping him to evade arrest.
Their brother and six other people are variously charged with failing to disclose information about the bombing suspects and with helping them evade arrest.