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France judge postpones terrorism verdict for former Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] French judge Jean-Claude Kross Wednesday postponed a verdict in the trial [JURIST report] of six former Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] detainees accused of attending combat training at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan [JURIST news archive], saying the court needs more information on French intelligence missions to Guantanamo. Defense lawyers for the six men, all French nationals, accuse the French government of colluding with US authorities over the detentions and seeking to use inadmissible evidence obtained through secret service interviews with the detainees without their lawyers present. Kross scheduled new hearings for May 2, calling the former head of counterterrorism at the French DST intelligence agency [official backgrounder] to testify.

France released five of the suspects after their repatriation to France from Guantanamo in July 2004 and March 2005 [BBC reports]. The prosecution alleges that the six suspects were recruited by Rachid Boukhalfa, an Algerian held in a British prison also known as Abu Doha. France formally charged the six defendants in April [JURIST report] with criminal conspiracy relating to terrorism, and began the trial in July. During the trial, prosecutors called for lenient one-year prison sentences given the suspect nature of their detention at Guantanamo. AFP has more. Reuters has additional coverage.

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