Former Guantanamo detainees convicted, released after France retrial

[JURIST] A French court Wednesday sentenced five Frenchmen released from the US detention center at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive] to one year in prison for "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise" after a retrial. A sixth defendant was acquitted. The men were charged with allegedly attending combat training at an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. They were repatriated to France from Guantanamo in July 2004 and March 2005 [BBC reports]. The five men convicted had served provisional sentences in France and were released before the trial's conclusion; they will not be returning to prison. The prosecution sought the one-year convictions for the use of false travel documentation to "integrate terrorist structures" in Afghanistan and called their Guantanamo detention a "defiance of international law."

France formally charged the six defendants [JURIST report] in April 2006. During their original September 2006 trial, the judge refused to deliver a verdict [JURIST report], instead saying that he wanted to know more about a French intelligence-gathering mission in which French agents had interviewed the six men while still at Guantanamo. The French government at first failed to disclose the meetings [JURIST report], a fact that could have rendered the case invalid. During the retrial [JURIST report], a French diplomatic telegram published in the Liberation daily referred to intelligence agents who conducted interviews with the suspects at least twice while at Guantanamo [Liberation report, in French]. AP has more.

 

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