French judge rejects defence claim in terror trial

22nd March 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 21, 2006 (AFP) - A French prosecutor in the trial of 27 people suspected of planning a terrorist attack on the Eiffel Tower Tuesday challenged an attempt by one defendant to have the case against him thrown out.

PARIS, March 21, 2006 (AFP) - A French prosecutor in the trial of 27 people suspected of planning a terrorist attack on the Eiffel Tower Tuesday challenged an attempt by one defendant to have the case against him thrown out.

Anne Kostomaroff rejected a claim by 41-year-old Algerian former army officer and chemicals expert Said Arif that the French court could not try him for acts committed outside France.

Kostomaroff said Arif was a legitimate defendant before for the French courts because he had allegedly acted as one of a group of defendants accused of committing crimes in France.

The prosecutor also rejected a call by Arif's lawyer, Sebastien Bono, not to allow evidence he claimed had been obtained from his client under torture in Damascus.

She said the Algerian had been questioned in Damascus at the request of the French authorities and in the presence of a French examining magistrate.

The case, which opened here Monday, follows one of the country's biggest anti-terrorism investigations in recent years.

The 27 defendants are charged with criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise.

Some of the suspects have given statements claiming that attacks were planned against French targets including the Eiffel Tower, police stations and a central Paris shopping centre.

Others have said the group planned attacks on Russian targets in France to avenge the attack on a Chechen rebel unit in Moscow in October 2002.

Among those on trial are suspects charged with links to Al-Qaeda or Chechen rebels, or suspected former members of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and minor operatives recruited in the Paris suburbs.

Some also face charges of making and carrying false documents and being in the country illegally.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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