Terror suspect admits Israeli embassy bomb plot

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The Independent Online

British-born terror suspect Jack Roche today pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb the Israeli Embassy in the Australian capital Canberra.

British-born Jack Roche changed his plea to guilty today in an al-Qaida-linked plot to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Canberra, Australia, ending his trial on its tenth day and avoiding further cross-examination.

Roche, 50, had pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial in Perth. He now faces a maximum punishment of 25 years in prison for conspiring to damage the Israeli embassy with explosives and harm diplomatic staff.

The plot was never carried out.

After Roche changed his plea, Justice Paul James Healy asked jurors who sat for the trial so far to give their verdict as well. The foreman later said the jury found Roche guilty. Healy set the sentencing for Tuesday.

Prosecutors accused Roche - an Australian citizen who was born in Hull - of conspiring with members of al-Qaida and its Southeast Asian-linked Jemaah Islamiyah militant group to attack the Israeli Embassy in Australia.

Roche, who said he met Osama bin Laden when he was sent to Afghanistan for training in April 2000, admitted his involvement in the plot during trial testimony but said he had a change of heart about carrying it out and worked to have it cancelled.

Australian Federal Police welcomed Roche's change of plea.

"We were always hopeful that we would get guilty, either through (jury) verdict or a plea," said Agent Michael Duthie, head of the federal police investigation. "To get it now is late in the day, but we're happy with it nevertheless."

Speaking outside the court, Roche's Indonesian wife Afifah said her husband changed his plea because he was tired and depressed by yesterday's cross-examination.

"He doesn't want to speak anymore. You know, he's (a) human being," she said, crying. "I don't know, maybe the prosecutor is not human ... he just asked again and again and again."

He told the court yesterday that he feared he would be killed by members of the terror groups if he were not seen to be carrying out his part of the plot. He said this was why he travelled to film the embassy in Canberra and the consulate in Sydney.

"You're seriously saying it was possible they could be waiting to see if you were doing the surveillance?" prosecutor Ron Davies asked Roche in court, to which Roche replied: "Yes."

Roche insisted under cross examination that his orders were only to film the Israeli targets, and that he did not intend to be part of the actual attack.