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09 january, 2007 | By Fatima Salkazanova

Those Notorious Double Standards (20308)

 Unlike in Russia and possibly even the UK, people in France remember only too vividly the name of Rashid Ramd, one of the leaders of what was known as the Armed Islamic Group outlawed in Algeria for terrorism. In 1993 he was given a life sentence in absentia for involvement in a terrorist act at Algiers airport. In that act committed in July 1992 nine people were killed and 123 wounded. The verdict was made in the absence of the accused because Rashid Ramd contrived to flee to Great Britain where he promptly applied for political asylum – which was granted. In London he published Al Ansar, a newssheet of his organization. The UK government refused to extradite him to Algeria, and he became coordinator of overseas operations of the Algerian Armed Islamic Group. Among other things, he coordinated the funding of terrorist acts. 

In July and October 1995 three such acts were carried out in Paris, all three in the underground. As a result, eight people were killed and 194 wounded. It was the same Algerian Armed Islamic Group that assumed responsibility for the acts. As suspects were searched, documents were found that unequivocally pointed to the said Rashid Ramd, now a London-dweller, as the source of money to finance the terrorist acts. Moreover, the documents carried his fingerprints. 

And now comes the really fascinating part, especially in the light of recent events. The men who committed the crime in Paris were arrested. The leader of the criminal group, Algeria-born Boualem Bensaid, was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999. Rashid Ramd’s direct involvement in the crimes in Paris was conclusively proved by documents, and France requested Ramd’s extradition from Britain. Yet London flatly refused to comply on the grounds that France could not guarantee the accused man’s civil rights. In the UK itself, Rashid Ramd was arrested in November 1995. He was kept in confinement without any official charge, and thus without any trial. Talk of civil rights… Malicious gossip in France alleged that the real reason for Britain’s recalcitrance was the desire to avoid problems with radical, armed Islamic organizations there. But – in 2005 terrorist acts were committed on British soil as well. French political analysts believe that that helped the British to see the pointlessness of such connivance. So in 2005 Rashid Ramd was at long last extradited to France and faced trial. His guilt was fully and conclusively proved. The judge and the jury sentenced him to ten years in prison for, to quote the court ruling, “participation in a criminal group that acted jointly with a terrorist organization.” But that was merely the first sentence. As for the main charge of involvement in the terrorist acts in Paris, it will be brought against the man at the trial due to start in Paris this fall, on October 1 2007, to be precise. He may well get life for him crimes. 

Thus France spent ten years trying to get Britain to extradite Rashid Ramd. For ten years we kept seeing in television news the tears of maimed victims of the Paris terrorist acts who implored the UK to hand over that criminal. And naturally London’s refusal caused tension between France and Britain. However, France did not resort to kicking out British diplomats from Paris, nor did it ban entry to France to British civil servants. So today the French find it difficult to understand both Britain’s reaction to the Russian refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi, and the fact that France, as though oblivious of its own recent problem of this kind, sided with Britain, according to the official spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, Pascal Adriani. There’s big time politics for you.

 


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19 марта 2012
Syed
You've really captured all the essenatlis in this subject area, haven't you?

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