Paris car-bomb plotter 'tortured to confess'

11th January 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 10 (AFP) - An Islamic militant accused of plotting a suicide car-bombing against the US embassy in Paris denied the charge at his trial Monday, saying an earlier confession was wrung out of him by "atrocious" torture by interrogators in the United Arab Emirates.

PARIS, Jan 10 (AFP) - An Islamic militant accused of plotting a suicide car-bombing against the US embassy in Paris denied the charge at his trial Monday, saying an earlier confession was wrung out of him by "atrocious" torture by interrogators in the United Arab Emirates.

He said he was beaten on the soles of his feet, his fingers were twisted in a device resembling a bottle opener, his finger nails were partly ripped out and objects such as knitting needles were introduced into "the most intimate parts."

Djamel Beghal, 39, alleged to be the ringleader of five other men standing trial in the alleged plot, said he suffered unimaginable and atrocious pains, but was promised worse unless he confessed to what was put before him.

"I even asked to die, but it didn't stop," he said. "What choice did I have at that time?"

The prosecution alleged Beghal was on his way back to France to carry out the bombing plot when he was arrested at Dubai airport July 28, 2001 when he was in transit between Afghanistan, where he had undergone training at an Al-Qaeda camp, and Morocco.

Beghal told the court that the whole scenario was cooked up by the Emirates investigators. He withdrew his confession when he was returned to France on October 1, 2001 and was questioned by top anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere.

Beghal said he had kept quiet about the torture until now because Bruguere had hinted about reprisals against his family unless he stuck to the confession. He added that "pressures" had continued in jail.

Judge Philippe Vandingenen said there was nothing in the files to corroborate Beghal's declarations, including a medical examination made at the time of his extradition.

According to the prosecution, Beghal confessed to having met twice with Abu Zubaydah, a top aide to Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, at a training camp in Afghanistan in March 2001, who told him to organise a cell in Paris to plan the embassy attack.

French investigators say Beghal, a Franco-Algerian, was the operational mastermind behind a radical Islamist cell that had contacts in Britain, Belgium, Spain, the Netherlands and Germany.

The other members of the group, including computer expert Kamel Daoudi, were identified in surveillance operations conducted after Beghal's arrest.

The trial is expected to last until mid-February.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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