Algerian bomb suspect jailed in France after extradition

Algerian bomb suspect jailed in France after extradition

By AFP, Middle East Times, December 2, 2005

An Algerian wanted over deadly 1995 bombings on the Paris metro was imprisoned late on Thursday after being extradited from Britain to France to face trial over the attacks, his lawyer said.

Lawyer Guillaume Barbe said that his client Rachid Ramda would appear in court on Monday for a bail hearing before his main court appearance on January 24 to answer charges of association with terrorism.

Justice minister Pascal Clement said that he hoped that Ramda’s trial would take place « in a few months ».

Ramda, also known as Abu Fares, flew in to Le Bourget airport north of Paris where he was awaited by a large armed police escort that took him to the palace of justice.

The 35-year-old this month lost a British court legal challenge against his removal to France, having fought off several extradition requests since his arrest in London 10 years ago.

Held in quasi-isolation at the high-security prison at Belmarsh near London, Ramda was the longest serving detainee awaiting extradition from Britain.

French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin expressed satisfaction at his return, the « fruit of cooperation » with Tony Blair’s British government.

Britain announced a crackdown on foreign terror suspects in the wake of the July 7 bombings on London’s Underground train network and a bus that killed 56 people, including the bombers.

Ramda is suspected of having financed, with others, a series of attacks on the Paris metro network in 1995, including one at the Saint-Michel station that left eight people dead and 150 injured.

He is wanted in France under four arrest warrants – three relating to the 1995 bombings and one for « criminal conspiracy in relation with a terrorist enterprise ».

Ramda is alleged to be a leader of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), a militant group that has been fighting the Algerian government since 1992.

In 1993 he was sentenced to death in absentia in Algeria over an attack on Algiers airport that left nine dead and 123 wounded.

His supporters had argued against his extradition to France on the grounds that he might be unlawfully sent back to Algeria to face the death penalty, which the French authorities have denied.

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