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DATE=6/1/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-250081 TITLE=FRANCE TERROR (L-ONLY) BYLINE=JULIAN NUNDY DATELINE=PARIS CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: TWENTY-FOUR PEOPLE, DESCRIBED BY PROSECUTORS AS ALGERIAN ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS, WENT ON TRIAL IN PARIS TUESDAY FOR THEIR ALLEGED ROLE IN BOMB ATTACKS IN FRANCE FOUR YEARS AGO. THE ATTACKS LEFT 12 PEOPLE DEAD AND DOZENS MORE WOUNDED. JULIAN NUNDY REPORTS FROM PARIS. TEXT: AS A COURT OFFICIAL READ OUT THE NAMES OF THE 24 ACCUSED, ASKING THEM TO STAND, EACH STAYED SEATED. THE WOMAN JUDGE TRYING THE CASE ASKED THEM: "WHY WILL YOU NOT STAND?" "BECAUSE Y-O-U ARE SITTING" REPLIED ONE OF THE DEFENDANTS, BOUALEM BENSAID. THE FIRST DAY OF THE ONE-MONTH-LONG TRIAL SET THE TONE FOR WHAT ARE EXPECTED TO BE HIGHLY CONFRONTATIONAL PROCEEDINGS. ALL OF THE 24 DEFENDANTS FACE UP TO 10 YEARS IN JAIL ON CHARGES OF PREPARING A SERIES OF BOMB ATTACKS THAT TERRORIZED FRANCE FOR SEVERAL MONTHS. THE RESULTS ARE STILL VISIBLE TODAY, AS TROOPS TOTING AUTOMATIC RIFLES STILL PATROL MAINLAND RAILROAD STATIONS IN PARIS AND OTHER FRENCH CITIES TO HEAD OFF ANY REPETITION. THE ATTACKS ARE BLAMED ON THE BANNED "ALGERIAN ARMED ISLAMIC GROUPS," OR "G-I-A," THAT ARE ALSO HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR SOME OF THE WORST ATROCITIES INSIDE ALGERIA DURING RECENT YEARS OF CIVIL STRIFE. THE 1995 FRENCH BOMBINGS BEGAN WITH AN EXPLOSION IN A PARIS SUBWAY TRAIN IN JULY THAT YEAR. EIGHT PEOPLE WERE KILLED. BUT THE SIGNAL FOR THE CAMPAIGN HAD COME TWO WEEKS EARLIER WHEN THE ALGERIAN IMAM OF A PARIS MOSQUE -- HIMSELF AN OPPONENT OF THE GOVERNMENT IN ALGIERS -- WAS SHOT DEAD DURING PRAYERS. THE IMAM HAD ARGUED THAT IT WAS WRONG TO BRING ALGERIA'S CIVIL WAR TO PARIS. ALL THE BOMBS IN 1995 WERE THE SAME TYPE -- CONSISTING OF EMPTY GASOLINE CANISTERS PACKED WITH EXPLOSIVE POWDER AND NAILS AND TRIGGERED BY PRIMITIVE TIMING DEVICES. ONE BOMB WAS SET TO GO OFF BY AN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL FOR JEWISH CHILDREN NEAR THE CITY OF LYON. IT EXPLODED EARLY -- JUST TWO OR THREE MINUTES BEFORE THE CHILDREN WERE DUE TO LEAVE THEIR CLASSROOMS. NO ONE WAS SERIOUSLY HURT IN THAT ATTACK. DEFENDANT RACHID RAMDA -- WHO IS CONSIDERED BY SOME TO BE THE G-I-A'S BANKER BECAUSE HE TRANSFERRED MONEY TO THE BOMBERS' OPERATION IN FRANCE FROM AN ACCOUNT IN LONDON, WAS ABSENT FROM THE OPENING TRIAL. HE HAS BEEN IN PRISON IN BRITAIN FOR THREE YEARS AS SUCCESSIVE FRENCH ATTEMPTS TO EXTRADITE HIM HAVE FAILED. SOME OF THE OTHERS ACCUSED CAN EXPECT TO GO BEFORE ANOTHER COURT LATER TO FACE CHARGES THAT THEY ACTUALLY PLACED AND DETONATED THE BOMBS THAT TURNED THE SUMMER OF 1995 IN FRANCE ... INTO A SEASON OF TERROR. (SIGNED) NEB/JN/PCF 01-Jun-99 2:35 PM EDT (1835 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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