Mauritania defence lawyers to appeal Al-Qaeda death sentences

26th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Defence lawyers on Wednesday filed an appeal against a verdict condemning their clients, three Mauritanian Al-Qaeda members, to death for the murder of four French tourists.

"This morning we filed an appeal against the verdict which has a lot of shortcomings and has only taken into account requests from the prosecution," the prisoners' lawyer Zaim Ould Hemed Vall told AFP.

Mohamed Ould Chabarnou, 29, Maarouf Ould Haiba, 28, and Sidi Ould Sidna, 22, were on Tuesday sentenced to death for their role in the shooting of five French tourists on December 24, 2007 near the city of Aleg in southern Mauritania. Only one survived.

The accused acknowledged during the trial that they had been "trained in camps" of Al-Qaeda, but denied they killed the tourists.

"The prosecution did not show any incriminating evidence against our clients and, more seriously, expertise sought from French experts and cited by the prosecution does not show up in the record," said Vall.

"The defence is confident that the appeal court will correct the errors at trial."

According to Vall the appeal procedure could take a month to complete.

Mauritania has not executed anyone since 1987.

The murder of the tourists marked a turning point for the previously peaceful nation, leading to the cancellation of the Paris-Dakar rally a few days later.

Since the shootings Mauritania has been subjected to several attacks, killings and kidnappings claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

© 2010 AFP

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