France court reverses terrorism convictions of former Guantanamo detainees

[JURIST] A Paris appeals court on Tuesday overturned the 2007 terrorism convictions of five French citizens who had been questioned by French officials while detained at Guantanamo Bay [JURIST news archive]. The court held that counter-terrorism agents from the French national security service DST [official website, in French] could not gather intelligence and conduct a criminal investigation at the same time. The defendants, Brahim Yadel, Mourad Benchellali, Nizar Sassi, Khaled ben Mustapha and Redouane Khalid, had been convicted [JURIST report] of "criminal association with a terrorist enterprise" and sentenced to one year in prison. Prosecutors plan to appeal [AP report] the ruling to France's Court of Cassation [official website, in French].

The court's ruling had been postponed in January, after US President Barack Obama ordered the closure of the Guantanamo detention center [JURIST reports]. France charged the defendants [JURIST report] in April 2006, and during their original September 2006 trial, the judge refused to deliver a verdict [JURIST report], explaining that he wanted to know more about the intelligence-gathering mission in which agents interviewed the men at Guantanamo. The French government at first failed to disclose the meetings [JURIST report], which came to light during the retrial [JURIST report] when a French diplomatic telegram published in the Liberation daily referred to at least two such interviews.

 

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.