Four jailed over plot to bomb Strasbourg


GERMANY: A German court convicted four Algerians of conspiracy to murder yesterday for planning a foiled bomb attack in the French city of Strasbourg in December 2000, and handed them sentences of 10 to 12 years in jail.

The Frankfurt court found Aeurobui Beandali (27), Salim Boukhari (31), Fouhad Sabour (38), and Lamine Maroni (32) guilty of preparing a bomb attack on the popular Strasbourg Christmas market and conspiracy to murder.

But Judge Karlheinz Zeiher said the prosecution had failed to prove a link between the four men and Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network.

"The accused wanted to hit the nerve centre of a free, Western, civilised society," Judge Zeiher told the court. The men had trained in Afghanistan so they could carry out attacks as part of a "Holy War" on the West, he said.

"Everybody must be glad that the planned bloodbath did not happen. The God of us all also did not want it and stopped it." He said the men consciously chose Christian symbols like the Christmas market and the Strasbourg cathedral as their targets and wanted to punish France for backing the Algerian government.

The judge said the men had learned to build bombs at camps in Afghanistan and sworn there a hatred of Western values.

The four admitted training in Afghanistan but said they had done so to be able to fight the Algerian government and denied connections to al-Qaeda.

Three of the four remained sitting as he read the judgment as a sign of their disregard for the court. Police foiled the Strasbourg plot when they arrested the men in Frankfurt in December 2000 after a tip-off from a foreign intelligence agency. - (Reuters)