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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 December 2007, 15:05 GMT
France Guantanamo five convicted
Redouane Khalid [File pic]
The men have been free since their repatriation
Five Frenchmen who spent time at the US detention centre at Guantanamo Bay have been convicted of having links to terrorism by a court in Paris.

All five were sentenced to one year in jail plus a suspended sentence, but will not return to jail having spent more than a year in US custody.

The five were arrested in Afghanistan, where the US said they had travelled to fight with the Taleban.

Meanwhile, three UK residents have been released from Guantanamo Bay.

Prosecution cautious

Five of the French suspects - Khaled Ben Mustapha, Redouane Khalid, Brahim Yadel, Mourad Benchellali, and Nizar Sassi - were convicted on charges of "criminal association in relation to a terrorist enterprise", a commonly-used charge in France.

A sixth man, Imad Achab Kanouni, was acquitted after prosecutors recommended that there was not enough evidence available to convict.

All six were facing possible sentences of up to 10 years.

However, prosecutor Sonya Djemni-Wagner did not request lengthy sentences, telling the court she was opposed to the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and describing the men's detention as "abnormal".

DEFENDANTS
Imad Achab Kanouni, 30
Khaled Ben Mustapha, 35
Redouane Khalid, 39
Brahim Yadel, 37
Mourad Benchellali, 26
Nizar Sassi, 27

"None of them should have been held on that base, in defiance of international law, and have had to go through what they went through," the Associated Press news agency reported her as saying.

But she did say that the men deserved punishment for identity offences relating to their visit to Afghanistan.

The six went to Afghanistan during 2000 and 2001. They were captured after the US invasion and transferred to Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

They were returned to France in 2004 and 2005 after negotiations between the French and US governments, and have been free since their return.

Prosecutors alleged they knowingly mingled with terrorists and sought training at a camp near Kandahar.

Some of the men admitted staying at camps linked to al-Qaeda, but all denied taking part or planning acts of terrorism.

After their release several of the men alleged that they had been maltreated while in Guantanamo Bay, and protested their innocence.

SEE ALSO
France rejects suspects' appeal
04 Aug 04 |  Europe

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