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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 December, 2004, 14:55 GMT
Jail for Strasbourg bomb plotters
Strasbourg Christmas market
The group's target was Strasbourg Christmas market
Ten suspected Islamic militants have been jailed in Paris for their part in a failed plot to blow up a Christmas market in Strasbourg in December 2000.

The suspects - all Algerian or French-Algerian - were sentenced to terms of up to 10 years.

The plot was discovered just days before it was allegedly due to be carried out on New Year's Eve.

One of the convicted men is said to have been an associate of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.

Four others allegedly linked to the group have already been convicted of planning the attack. They were sentenced to between 10 and 12 years' imprisonment by a court in Frankfurt in March 2003.

The German court said the group had planned to blow up pressure cookers packed with explosives, a technique they allegedly learned in Afghan camps.

The target was the popular Strasbourg Christmas market set up around the city's cathedral, which was shown in a video with a voiceover by one of the four saying that the passers-by were the "enemies of God" and would burn in hell.

Logistical support

The 10 sentenced in Paris on Thursday were convicted of criminal association with a terrorist enterprise, which state prosecutor Christophe Tessier said had links to Islamic networks in Britain, Italy and Spain.

Last month, Mr Tessier said the bombing "was avoided by a hair".

The group's alleged leaders, Mohamed Bensakhria, 37 and Slimane Khalfaoui, 29, were given 10 years, and Mohamed Yacine Aknouche, 30, was given eight. Rabah Kadri, 37, who is in detention in the UK was given six years and was banned from entering French territory.

The six other suspects, given lesser terms, were alleged to have given logistical support to the plot by supplying false papers to other members of the group.

Khalfaoui's lawyer, Isabelle Coutant-Peyre, said the convictions and sentences showed that French institutions, and French justice were "racist, anti-Arab and Islamophobic".




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Details of the Strasbourg plot



SEE ALSO:
Strasbourg bomb plotters jailed
10 Mar 03 |  Europe
Algeria's terror connection
05 Mar 03 |  Europe



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