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Mauritania court acquits 24 terror suspects

[JURIST] A court in Mauritania [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] acquitted 24 defendants on trial for assorted crimes under anti-terror laws Tuesday, finding that confessions and testimonies obtained from the suspects were inadmissible because they were obtained through torture. Only one defendant, who was tried in absentia following his escape, was convicted and sentenced to two-years in prison and fined $340 dollars. Eleven other suspected terrorists, who were arrested between 2006 and 2007, await trial.

Last week, the defendants, all suspected to be members of the al Qaeda wing group Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) [FAS backgrounder] said police had obtained their confessions through torture [JURIST report]. The trial has been touted as an example of growing judicial independence, as Mauritania is going through a period of democratic transition after a military coup [JURIST report] in 2005 ended former President Maaouya Ould Sid'Ahmed Taya's 21-year rule. AFP has more.

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