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Last Updated: Monday, 8 September, 2003, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Suspect claims intelligence link
Police picture of French suspect Pierre Robert
Robert: Known by variety of names
A Frenchman on trial over the Casablanca suicide bombings has worked for French intelligence, he has claimed at his trial in Morocco.

Pierre Robert told the court he had been paid to infiltrate Muslim groups.

Mr Robert and 33 other people are charged with murder, conspiracy and possessing arms and explosives.

The Casablanca attacks, involving around 12 suicide bombers, killed 33 other people.

Mr Robert, 31, said a French secret service agent known as "Mr Luc" first approached him to recruit him five years ago, and paid him for his services.

"I was contacted at the time of the (football) World Cup in 1998 by the DST to conduct inquiries into Algerian Islamist networks in France, and I did that," Mr Robert told the court in Rabat.

After successfully completing the mission, Mr Robert was asked by Mr Luc to investigate "Islamist activities in Belgium" - which he also carried out, he said.

A French Interior Ministry official has insisted that the department had "never had contact with this person."

Torture claim

Robert, who faces the death penalty if found guilty, also implied in court that he had been sexually assaulted during his detention in Morocco.

His comments follow claims of rape and torture reported by his lawyer, Vincent Courcelle-Labrousse, last week.

Mr Robert, originally from Saint-Etienne in central France, now lives in Tangiers where he has a Moroccan wife. He is also known as Yacoub.

He denies all the charges against him.

In a separate development, the families of the bomb victims are forming a pressure group to demand financial help.

They say six months after the attack they are facing major financial difficulties despite having been promised government help.

The BBC's correspondent in Rabat, Sebastian Usher, says the notorious sluggishness of the Moroccan bureaucracy has meant that nothing on a government level has yet been done for the families, some of which have lost their only bread-winner.

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17 May 03  |  Africa

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