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France court postpones ruling on former Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] A French court on Tuesday postponed a ruling on whether to overturn the sentences of five French citizens who were released from US custody at the Guantanamo Bay [JURIST report] detention center in July 2004 and March 2005 [BBC reports]. The five, identified as Brahim Yadel, 37, Mourad Benchellali, 26, Nizar Sassi, 27, Khaled Ben Mustapha, 35, and Redouane Khalid, 39, were convicted in December 2007 [JURIST report] of "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise," and sentenced to one year in prison each. The five men had served provisional sentences in France and were released before the conclusion of the 2007 trial. The postponement [AFP report] of the French ruling comes in response to US President Barack Obama's order to close the Guantanamo detention center [JURIST report] within one year.

France formally charged the 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 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.

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