MAURITANIA: TERROR SUSPECTS FACE DEATH PENALTY
May 24, 2010: A Mauritanian prosecutor asked the Nouakchott criminal court to sentence to death three young men accused of the murder of four French tourists in 2007.
The defendants - Sidi Ould Sidna, 22, Maarouf Ould Haiba, 28, and Mohamed Ould Chabarnou, 29 - are accused of having shot five French tourists east of the southern desert town on Aleg, killing four of them on December 24, 2007.
At the opening of the trial, the three men presented themselves as 'soldiers of Al-Qaeda' and acknowledged they that had been 'trained in camps' of the organisation, but they denied killing the French tourists.
'I am a soldier of Al-Qaeda, I say it with pride. I have been trained in their camps,' Ould Sidna, one of the three defendants, told the trial in the Mauritanian capital. 'I did not kill but I confess that it would have been a great honour for me if I had killed,' said another, Ould Haiba.
The three men are notably accused of criminal association, belonging to an armed gang that carried out murders and terrorist attacks against citizens of a foreign country.
The court is trying a total of 12 Mauritanian men in connection with the murders, two in their absence because they are on the run. Since the shootings of the French tourists, usually peaceful Mauritania has been subjected to several attacks, killings and kidnappings claimed by Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. (Sources: AFP, 24/05/2010)