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Last Updated: Monday, 9 May, 2005, 18:05 GMT 19:05 UK
Terror suspects cleared in Italy
Judge Luigi Cerqua acquits five Tunisians of terror offences in a Milan court
The judge found some of the men guilty of lesser offences
Five Tunisians have been acquitted in a court in Milan of charges of international terrorism.

The men were accused of plotting attacks to be launched outside Italy and recruiting militants.

However, the court acquitted them of those charges. At least four of the men were jailed for lesser crimes, such as aiding illegal immigration.

They were sentenced to jail terms of between two-and-a-half and four-and-a-half years.

Prosecutors accused the defendants of belonging to Ansar al-Islam, an Islamist group based in northern Iraq and said to be linked to the al-Qaeda network.

They were alleged to have recruited militants on behalf of Ansar al-Islam, produced false documents and provided logistical support.

The evidence included recordings of the suspects' telephone conversations and testimony from Tunisian associates of the men.

They were tried under legislation Italy introduced shortly after the 11 September 2001 attacks, brought in to counter "subversive association aimed at international terrorism".

The leader of the group denied those charges but admitted forging documents, his lawyer told the AP news agency.

The lawyer, Sandro Clementi, said prosecutors could only prove that the men harboured anti-American and anti-Italian sentiment, not that they were terrorists.


SEE ALSO:
Italy 'foils Iraq suicide plot'
09 May 04 |  Europe


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