British court says terror trials can be held in partial secrecy

Britain's appeals court has ruled that a criminal trial can be held largely in secret -- a decision some say sets a dangerous precedent.

Three judges said Thursday that the case of two terrorism suspects was "exceptional," and that the core of the case should be heard without the public present in court. Under the ruling, some journalists will be allowed to attend the proceedings, but not to report it as it unfolds.

The judges expressed "grave concern as to the cumulative effects" of both a secret trial and anonymous defendants. They ordered that the names of the defendants be released.

The defendants, previously named as AB and CD, were then identified as Erol Incedal and Mounir Rarmoul-Bouhadjar.

Prosecutors sought the secret trial on national security grounds. That move was challenged by media organizations, who later claimed a partial victory in the case.

Prosecutors warned they might have to abandon the trial if it was not held behind closed doors, and the judges agreed that there was a risk that "the administration of justice would be frustrated if the trial were to be held in open court."

The judges said the "core" of part of the trial should be private but some sections would be held in public, including the jury swearing-in and the reading of the charges.

The trial is due to begin Monday.