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Trial begins in Chicago for 3 NATO protesters

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014 12:42 p.m. CDT

CHICAGO — Opening statements have started in the trial of three protesters charged with terrorism following the 2012 NATO summit in Chicago.

Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly are accused of plotting Molotov cocktail attacks during the event. All three have pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit terrorism and providing material support for terrorism. Prosecutors dropped other, lesser charges against the three men earlier this month.

Cook County prosecutors said during their opening statement Tuesday that the three wanted to firebomb various locations, including police stations.

Defense attorneys argued there isn't a terrorism case and prosecutors exaggerated the defendants' actions.

The trial is expected to center on Illinois' rarely used terrorism laws. Critics say the statutes are unconstitutionally vague.

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