An update on this story, and a curious report that describes the ruling both as being “seen as ‘clemency’,” and “hailed as a model of judiciary independence.”
“Mauritania court acquits Islamists, jails one,” from Agence France-Presse:
NOUAKCHOTT (AFP) – A court in Mauritania on Tuesday acquitted 24 Islamists
accused of links to a terrorist organisation and sentenced one to two years in jail, in a trial hailed as a model of judiciary independence.
A prosecutor had during the trial sought up to 10-year jail terms with forced
labour for 20 members of the accused and acquittals for the rest.
But the defendants’ lawyers based their defence on the “inadmissibility” of
testimonies to police, which they claim were “extorted under torture”, and fought hard in
recent days to prove the group’s innocence.
Only Elkhadim Ould Semmane, tried in absentia after he escaped from jail in
April 2006, was given a prison term, and was fined the equivalent of 295 euros (340
The group was accused of receiving training in 2004 by the Salafist Group for
Preaching and Combat (GSPC), now known as Al-Qaeda’s branch in northern Africa, with the
aim of going to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One of the defence lawyers said Semmane’s jail term will have to be slashed by
half because he had already spent a year in detention before his escape. He has a right to
appeal against the ruling, he added.
Semmane was also faced charges of using fake identity papers from Mali, Niger
The acquittal of the group, seen as “clemency”, will be a bonus for Mauritania’s new democratically-elected political leadership on judiciary independence, observers said.