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Judge to allow cameras at bomb trial

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LOS ANGELES — TV cameras will be allowed at the trial of a former Symbionese Liberation Army member accused of trying to bomb police cars in 1975 to avenge the deaths of SLA members, a court spokesman said Friday.

Court TV and others fought for the admission of cameras to a trial they said was of great public interest. The District Attorney's Office opposed televising the trial; the defense favored it.

Sara Jane Olson, formerly known as Kathleen Soliah, is charged with placing pipe bombs under two police cars in retaliation for a 1974 police shootout in which six SLA members died. The bombs did not detonate. Olson has said she had nothing to do with the bombs.

The three TV cameras will have fixed views of the lawyers' podium, the judge's bench and the witness stand, court spokesman Kyle Christopherson said. Still photo cameras also will be allowed.

Superior Court Judge Larry P. Fidler is expected to put the media rules in writing next week, Christopherson said.

The issue of cameras in court has been controversial in Los Angeles since the televised O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1994-95. Olson lawyer Shawn Chapman was a member of Simpson's defense team.

During a hearing Friday, the judge denied a defense bid to delay the trial, saying he will begin hearing pretrial motions on April 30.

Olson, who attended the hearing, was living as a Minnesota housewife and mother until her arrest in June 1999 after her picture appeared on "America's Most Wanted."

At the trial, the prosecution has said it intends to exhume the history of the SLA. Although prosecutors concede Olson was not involved in kidnapping newspaper heiress Patty Hearst or killing an Oakland school superintendent, they say details about those crimes will show the SLA's nature.