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 Monday, 13 January, 2003, 12:52 GMT
In-laws held over Paris bomb 'plot'
Abderazak Besseghir with his mother and son
Besseghir says he was framed over a family rift
French police have arrested the former parents-in-law of an airport baggage handler who had explosives and weapons planted in his car in an attempt to frame him.

The discovery of the weapons cache at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport sparked a major alert, amid fears of a terrorist plot.

The baggage handler, Abderazak Besseghir, insisted that he had been set up by his in-laws, who blamed him for the death of his wife in a fire.

Last week a former Foreign Legion soldier admitted planting the evidence in Mr Besseghir's car.

Mr Besseghir's car
A former soldier admitted planting the explosives
On Monday, Mr Besseghir's former father- and mother-in-law were also detained, said police sources.

They are being held on suspicion of "slanderous denunciation" and "denunciation of a non-existent crime".

Mr Besseghir, arrested on 28 December, was held as a terrorist suspect until last Friday.

He was detained after the former soldier, pretending to be a witness, told police he had spotted Mr Besseghir with weapons in his vehicle.

No evidence

The bomb in the vehicle was found to be ready to use, sparking concerns of an imminent terrorist attack.

But police said they were unable to find anything linking Mr Besseghir to extremists, and his fingerprints were not on the weapons.

Investigators gradually began to take seriously his claims that he was the victim of an elaborate set-up.

The parents-in-law were being questioned on Monday about their alleged involvement, police sources told journalists.

Man sought

An uncle of Mr Besseghir's late wife was also being sought, amid fears that he had fled to Algeria, where the family has its origins.

The former soldier, 39-year-old Marcel Le Hir, and an alleged accomplice, Patrick Pouchoulin, were both placed in preventative detention on Friday.

Police said both had confessed to their involvement.

The bomb - made with five cakes of Tolite plastic explosives - was found in the car park at the airport. Two automatic weapons were also found.

Mr Besseghir's wife, Louisa, died when she leapt from a window at their home during a fire.

Authorities declared her death an accident, but her family blamed him, saying she had been mistreated before her death.

Mr Besseghir insisted after his release that he was an innocent man whose name had now been sullied.

"Despite all that I have endured in the past 15 days, I still trust that justice will be done," he said.

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10 Jan 03 | Europe
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