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3 LeT men convicted in France

June 17, 2005 09:48 IST
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A Pakistani man and two Frenchmen of Pakistani origin, who at first had been suspected of helping shoe-bomber Richard Reid, were found guilty of having links to the Jammu and Kashmir separatist group Lashkar-e-Toiba.

The Paris court on Thursday sentenced the main defendant, Ghulam Rama, 67, a Pakistani who headed the Chemin Droit (Straight Path) humanitarian group in France, to five years in prison.

Two men who trained for insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir with Rama's help, Hassan el-Cheguer and Hakim Mokhfi, both 31, were given four-year prison sentences.

They were all charged with criminal association in connection with a terrorist enterprise, a sweeping charge widely used in terror cases in France that carries a maximum 10-year sentence.

They were arrested in 2002, suspected of providing logistical support to Reid, a Briton serving a life sentence in the United States for trying to detonate a shoe bomb aboard a Paris-Miami flight in December 2001. However, the investigation did not bear out those suspicions, denied by Rama.

"This case could have been named the Reid case, but it is not the Reid case," Prosecutor Sonya Djemni-Wagner said in court on May 26, two weeks after the trial started.

The court was able to show, however, that Rama served as a link in France to LeT, helping his co-defendants to go to training camps.

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