French judge refuses release of fourex-Guantanamo prisoners

3rd August 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 4 (AFP) - A Paris appeals court judge on Wednesday refused the conditional release of four French nationals repatriated from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay and now under investigation in France for terror-related crimes.

PARIS, Aug 4 (AFP) - A Paris appeals court judge on Wednesday refused the conditional release of four French nationals repatriated from the US prison at Guantanamo Bay and now under investigation in France for terror-related crimes.

The judge rejected the emergency appeal in line with the recommendations of prosecutors. A larger panel of judges was due to re-examine the request for conditional release by August 20.

Mourad Benchellali, Nizar Sassi, Brahim Yadel and Imad Achab Kanouni were placed under investigation on Saturday on suspicion of criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise, four days after their return to France. Benchellali and Sassi are also suspected of using false passports that allowed them to reach Afghanistan, where they were arrested by US forces on the border with Pakistan in December 2001.

The four men are suspected of spending significant time in Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan and belonging to a network that recruited Islamic militants.

Anti-terrorism investigators were particularly interested in any information the suspects might have about safe houses in Kabul and Pakistan, the Tora Bora caves on the Pakistan frontier and Al-Qaeda training camps, court sources said.

William Bourdon, one of the attorneys representing Benchellali and Sassi, said that keeping the men in detention would be inhumane as the evidence against them is flimsy.

Defense lawyers also charged that Benchellali and Sassi were abused during the more than two years that they were held at Guantanamo Bay.

Three other French detainees remain among the estimated 600 inmates at the US detention facility in Cuba.

© AFP

Subject: French news

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