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Al Qaeda-affiliated tourist killers sentenced to death

A Mauritanian court has sentenced three men to death for the murder of four French tourists in 2007. At the trial's opening on Sunday the defendants claimed to be "soldiers of al Qaeda".


REUTERS - A Mauritanian court sentenced three suspected members of Al Qaeda's north African wing to death on Tuesday for the December 2007 killings of four French
tourists, lawyers said.

As Mauritania has not applied the death sentence since the 1980s, the ruling means it is likely to be commuted to a lengthy jail term on appeal.

The three men -- Sidi Ould Sidna, Mohamed Ould Chabarnou, and Maarouf Ould Haiba -- were accused of shooting five French tourists in the town of Aleg in December 2007, killing four and seriously injuring one.

Lawyers at the trial in the capital Nouakchott confirmed their sentences to reporters outside the courtroom but gave no other details.

"This ruling is completely unjust. The case found no tangible evidence at all," said Mohamed Ould Haiba, the father of one of the convicted, confirming plans for an appeal.

The three were on trial alongside 16 other al Qaeda suspects as part of efforts by the governments of Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger to counter a wave of recent desert kidnappings of foreigners claimed by al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM.

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