A trial against 13 Bulgarian Muslim religious leaders for preaching a radical form of Islam heard key witnesses Monday, while nationalists demonstrated at the court in the southern town of Pazardzhik to protest "Muslim pressure" on its work.

The 12 men and one woman -- imams, mufti Islamic scholars and teachers -- have been charged with founding a local branch of the extremist Al Waqf-Al Islami group in the southern regions of Smolyan, Blagoevgrad and Pazardzhik.

The Netherlands-based but Saudi-funded organisation is suspected of links to Al-Qaeda.

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