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Trial gets under way in '05 London transit plot

LONDON -- Jury selection began yesterday in the trial of six men accused of trying to bomb London's transport network, with the judge telling prospective jurors they would be asked to decide whether the suspects had intended to kill -- not whether religion could be used to justify violence.

The defendants deny charges of conspiracy to murder and conspiracy to cause explosions in connection with failed attacks on July 21, 2005. Just two weeks earlier, four suicide bombers who claimed they were acting in the name of Islam killed 52 people on the London transit system.

Explosive devices were triggered July 21, again on three subway trains and a double-decker bus, but failed to detonate fully. No one was injured.

Dressed in dark suits and ties, the six defendants, most of whom are of East African descent, sat silently, flanked by security guards, as more than 100 prospective jurors were led into court.

Judge Adrian Fulford told the prospective jurors the trial "comes after all the shock, confusion, and press reporting" of attacks in July 2005, "most particularly the death and the injuries of those who were involved in the incidents on July 7."

The judge said the trial of Ibrahim Muktar Said, 28, Ramzi Mohamed, 25, Yassin Omar, 26, Manfu Asiedu, 33, Adel Yahya, 24, and Hussain Osman, 28 -- all from London -- is expected to last three to four months.

The judge told prospective jurors they would be asked to decide whether the defendants intended to kill or injure others.

"It is not about whether killing or causing serious injury to people is justified on the basis of any ideology or belief," he said.

Most of the suspects were arrested in Britain a few days after the failed bombings.