Britain holds first 'terror trial' under secrecy rules

Erol Incedal was charged with "intending to commit or preparing acts of terrorism" and parts of the trial were held behind closed doors in a legal first for Britain (AFP Photo/Carl Court)

London (AFP) - A court on Monday began hearing the country's first major trial on terrorism charges under new secrecy rules that means it will take place almost entirely out of the public eye.

The defendant is Erol Incedal, 26, who was formerly referred to in court documents only as AB, and he is accused of "intending to commit or preparing acts of terrorism" and possessing a document about bomb-making.

The "core" evidence is to be heard in secret and only part of the prosecution's opening statement as well as the verdict and sentence will be made public under the new rules.

Britain's Court of Appeal earlier this year ruled that limited elements of the proceedings must be made public following an appeal by media organisations against what would have been the country's first ever completely secret criminal trial.

Prosecutors had argued that disclosures from the proceedings could jeopardise national security.

The Court of Appeal did accept that there was a "significant risk" to the administration of justice in an open trial, as prosecutors might be deterred from proceeding with the case due to the sensitive nature of the evidence.

But it defended the principle of open justice and said basic information about the trial should be made available.

The trial is expected to take up to six weeks.