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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Corsica miltant jailed for racket
Charles Pieri, Corsican nationalist jailed for 10 years
Charles Pieri set up companies to front his extortion racket
A Corsican nationalist has been found guilty by a Paris court of racketeering and extortion to fund terrorism on the troubled French Mediterranean island.

Charles Pieri, a veteran of Corsica's separatist struggle, was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

During the trial, he denied the charges and said he was a "simple militant".

Nationalist politician Jean-Guy Talamoni was acquitted of charges relating to the "extortion of funds in connection with terrorist activities".

The arrest of Mr Talamoni - head of the pro-independence Unione nazionale party in Corsica's regional assembly - in April 2004 sparked protests on the island.

He was detained as part of the probe into Pieri, who was accused of setting up a mafia-style extortion racket.

Protests

Some tourist firms were forced to pay out large sums to a football club linked to the nationalist cause, and to take out expensive advertisements in a pro-independence newspaper, the prosecution said.

The court was also told that Pieri set up two companies, a security firm and a cleaning agency, that acted as fronts to divert money to his cause.
Jean-Guy Talamoni
Jean-Guy Talamoni was cleared of the charges against him

The trial is the first time in the 30 years since the Corsican independence movement began that French prosecutors have used financial rather than terrorism charges to try a top separatist suspect, French news agency, AFP, quoted commentators as saying.

A total of 22 people, including some of Pieri's family, were tried in the case.

In Corsica, around 100 nationalists protested outside the main courthouse in the northern city of Bastia as the verdict was being delivered, the Associated Press reported.

Pieri's group, the National Liberation Front for the Liberation of Corsica-Union of Fighters (FLNC-UC) reportedly called off a 15-month truce on the eve of his trial, saying it was "stepping up the struggle across all fronts - with no exception."




SEE ALSO:
France pledges Corsica security
28 Aug 03 |  Europe
Corsican lead in Nice blasts
20 Jul 03 |  Europe
Turbulent Corsica spurns autonomy
12 Jul 03 |  From Our Own Correspondent
Corsicans reject autonomy offer
06 Jul 03 |  Europe


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