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Al Qaeda-linked kidnapper sentenced to 12 years in jail

A Mauritanian judge handed down a 12-year jail sentence to a Malian national on Wednesday for abducting three Spanish aid workers in November 2009 and handing them over to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Two of the Spaniards are still being held.


AFP - A Mauritanian court on Wednesday sentenced a Malian national to 12 years in prison for kidnapping three Spanish aid workers and handing them over to Al-Qaeda.

Omar Sid'Ahmed Ould Hamma, who was arrested in February by Mauritanian security forces, was the ringleader of a gang of kidnappers who abducted the Spaniards the previous November.

The court in Nouakchott also sentenced an elderly Mauritanian shepherd to a one-year suspended sentence and acquitted four others.

Two of the Spaniards kidnapped on November 29 last year are still being held by Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which prosecutors said paid Hamma and others to hand them over.

The Al Qaeda militants have demanded payment of several million dollars in ransom and the release of Islamist prisoners held in Mauritania, which along with neighbouring desert states Mali and Niger has witnessed a rise in terrorism-related kidnappings of westerners.

The 12-year sentence handed down to Hamma will include hard labour and the confiscation of all his assets.


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