MAURITANIA: DEATH SENTENCE FOR AL-QAEDA YOUTHS IN FRENCH KILLINGS
May 25, 2010: A Mauritanian court sentenced three Al-Qaeda members to death for the 2007 murder of four French tourists, who responded with threats against France and its president.
Mohamed Ould Chabarnou, 29, Maarouf Ould Haiba, 28, and Sidi Ould Sidna, 22, had pleaded not guilty to the murders -- which shocked the visitor-friendly nation -- but presented themselves as "soldiers of Al-Qaeda".
The three men were accused of shooting five French tourists on December 24, 2007 near the city of Aleg in southern Mauritania.
Only one man survived the cold-blooded attack, a man in his seventies who lost two of his sons, his brother and a friend of the family.
The accused acknowledged during the trial that they had been "trained in camps" of Al-Qaeda, but denied they killed the tourists.
Prosecutors sought the death sentence, which has not been applied since the 1987 execution of three officers sentenced for attempting to overthrow the government of Maaouiya Ould Taya.
The three men had been 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.
Ould Sidna and Ould Chabarnou were arrested in January 2008 in the west African country of Guinea-Bissau with the help of French intelligence.
Ould Haiba was detained shortly after in the Mauritanian capital of Nouakchott. (Sources: Afp, 25/05/2010)