Ruling due in US Paris embassy plot trial

15th March 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - A Paris criminal court was set to rule Tuesday in the case of six suspected Islamic militants accused of plotting an attack against the US embassy in the French capital.

PARIS, March 15 (AFP) - A Paris criminal court was set to rule Tuesday in the case of six suspected Islamic militants accused of plotting an attack against the US embassy in the French capital.

At the conclusion of the six-week trial in February, prosecutors had asked that Djamel Beghal, the suspected mastermind of the group, be sentenced to a maximum 10 years in prison.

The Paris court was due to deliver its verdict at about 1:30 pm (1230 GMT). Beghal, a 39-year-old French national born in Algeria, and his five co-defendants have been charged with criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise. All have denied the charges brought against them.

Beghal was arrested in September 2001 at the airport in the Gulf emirate of Dubai, where he allegedly told investigators he was involved in a plot to attack the US embassy in Paris.

He initially claimed to have 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.

But he later retracted the confession before top French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguiere, claiming he had been physically and psychologically abused by investigators in the United Arab Emirates.

Beghal testified before the Paris court that Emirati investigators beat the soles of his feet, partially ripped out his fingernails and introduced objects like knitting needles in his "most intimate parts".

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

The cell was based in Corbeil-Essonnes, south of Paris, where Beghal once lived. He later moved to Britain, Germany and Pakistan, before spending time at Al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan.

The other members of the group, including 30-year-old computer expert Kamel Daoudi, were identified in surveillance operations conducted after Beghal's arrest.

Prosecutors asked that Daoudi also be sentenced to the maximum 10-year jail term, and called for sentences of five to eight years in prison for the other four accused.

© AFP

Subject: French News

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