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 Thursday, 2 January, 2003, 14:14 GMT
Explosives 'traced to suspect's locker'
Mr Besseghir's car
Mr Besseghir's car outside Paris police headquarters
Investigators are reported to have found traces of explosives in the locker of an airport baggage handler under investigation for terror-related offences.

The man, Abderazak Besseghir - a French national of Algerian origin, was arrested at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris on Saturday, when weapons and explosives were found in the boot of his car.

Mr Besseghir denies all knowledge of how they got there, and has suggested he may have been framed by relatives of his late wife.

His case will be weakened if it turns out that he personally handled explosives.

Arsenal

The French newspaper Le Parisien quotes an investigator as saying that the alleged find in the locker suggested that a package of explosives had been sent from abroad by plane.

Police have been examining Mr Besseghir's car
Police have been examining Mr Besseghir's car
It is also reported that the back seat of Mr Besseghir's car - and possibly a child seat - had been in contact with explosives.

The arsenal found in the boot of his Peugeot included two pistols, five cakes of plastic explosives, two denators and a safety fuse.

Mr Besseghir appeared before an anti-terrorist magistrate on Wednesday, and was placed under formal investigation for criminal association with a terrorist organisation, violations of arms laws, and possession of false documents.

Another man, reported to be his uncle, was also placed under investigation for criminal association with a terrorist organisation, possession of false documents, and illegally entering the country.

Both men were remanded in custody.

Clean record

The firm which employed Mr Besseghir said he had worked at the airport for three years without giving any cause for suspicion.

He had no criminal record, although had reportedly been involved in a vandalism incident five years ago.

Mr Besseghir's wife's family blame him for her death in a fire.

She is reported to have said before she died that she did not want to live by the rules of the "Taleban's Koran".

Paris police have made several arrests in the past two weeks of suspected Islamic militants of Algerian or Moroccan origin.

The authorities say some were planning an attack on the Russian embassy in the city.

Police said they seized bomb-making equipment during two separate raids in Paris's northern suburbs in which nine people were arrested.

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