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France appeals court ups prison term for convicted Islamic militants

[JURIST] The Paris Court of Appeal [official website, in French] Tuesday raised the sentences of nine Islamic militants convicted of "criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise" from nine years to the maximum of 10 years in prison. The nine were among 25 defendants convicted [JURIST report] in June 2006 of plotting a terrorist attack foiled in December 2002 after investigators raided a Paris apartment and located chemicals, fuses, gas cans and protective suits [BBC report]. In the first trial, a defendant who was a chemical expert received the maximum 10-year prison sentence. The Tuesday appeal court ruling issued sentences ranging from two to seven years in prison for the other convicted defendants.

In December 2005, the French parliament approved toughened anti-terror legislation [JURIST report; text, in French] increasing funding for video surveillance of public areas, permitting government access to private phone and Internet records, and lengthening detention periods for terrorism suspects before they are formally charged. The anti-terrorism law was introduced by then-Interior Minister and current French President Nicolas Sarkozy [BBC profile], who acknowledged that the bill was in large part a response to the 2005 London subway bombings [JURIST report]. Reuters has more.

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