Trial Begins for Paris Metro Bombing Suspect
27 February 2006
An alleged Islamic radical is on trial in France after a 10-year battle to extradite him from London. Rachid Ramda is suspected of financing deadly terrorist attacks in France in 1995.
Rachid Ramda is charged with criminal association with a terrorist group. If found guilty, he faces up to 10 years in prison. He may also face a second trial at some point, for his role in 1995 bombings targeting the Paris metro that killed eight people and injured 200.
French prosecutors claim that he bankrolled the attacks from London. And in an interview with an Arabic newspaper, he allegedly claimed responsibility for the bombing, carried out under the radical Armed Islamic Group.
The trial amounts to a triumph for French authorities, who waged a decade-long battle for Ramda's extradition from Britain. He was finally transferred to France last December.
But Ramda's lawyer, Guillaume Barbe, argues the trial should be postponed until a police investigation into the reported torture of Islamic radicals linked to the bombing is complete.
Barbe told French radio that three militants, sentenced to prison for their role in the bombings, had been violently beaten during police custody. He said their confessions were extracted under torture, and that the inquiries of France's anti-terrorist division at the time were more than suspect.
French authorities are investigating allegations made in a recently published book that police used beatings and electronic prods to extract confessions from the bombing suspects.
The attacks were blamed on the radical Algerian Armed Islamic Group, which waged war against Algeria's military-backed government during the 1990s. The Paris attacks were among several staged against France for allegedly backing Algiers.
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