A terrorist mastermind who was harboured by the British government as an asylum seeker for more than ten years has finally been sent to prison for life.
Rachid Ramda, 39, pointed his fingers skyward and shouted ‘I’m innocent – praise Allah’ as a Paris appeal court confirmed his sentence for a series of attacks on the city’s underground system which left eight dead and hundreds injured.
He will now spend a minimum of 22 years behind bars, with France’s Advocate General Anne Vosgien saying he should ‘never be given the chance to reoffend again’.
Despite being a prime suspect for the 1995 bombing of the St Michel Metro station, Algerian-born Ramda was granted political asylum in Britain soon afterwards.
Although he was imprisoned while in the UK, his time there caused a diplomatic protest, with the French dubbing the capital ‘Londonistan’ because of its reputation for sheltering Muslim terrorists.
It was not until after the 7/7 attacks on the London Underground in 2005 that Ramda was finally sent back to France to face trial.
In 2007, French anti-terrorist judges ruled he was a leading member of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which carried out at least three attacks on the French capital’s Metro stations, including St Michel, Musee d’Orsay and Maison-Blanche.
During a two-day appeal hearing against his conviction, Paris’s Special Assizes Court heard how evidence against Ramda included a London bank payment slip bearing his signature and finger prints.
It had been used to fund the 1995 murders.
In 1993, Ramda was sentenced to death in absentia in Algiers following a bomb attack on the city’s airport in which nine people died.
He escaped to Britain, where he was kept under surveillance and was arrested in November 1995 before being granted asylum.
He said he was a refugee from what he described as political repression in Algeria.
As well as the airport bombing in his home country, which was in political turmoil at the time, he was wanted for numerous other attacks against what he viewed as oppressive forces. […]