'Australia terror plotter' jailed

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6454373.stm

Mar 15, 2007

A French national suspected of plotting terror attacks in Australia has been found guilty of links to terror groups.

Willie Brigitte, from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, was sentenced to nine years in jail by a Paris court.

He was arrested in Australia in 2003 and deported to France to stand trial on a charge of "criminal conspiracy in relation with a terrorist enterprise".

Brigitte, 38, was accused in court of plotting to blow up Australia's only nuclear research power station.

The Frenchman, who declined to speak during the trial, had previously denied any plans for an attack in Australia.

His lawyers are said to be considering an appeal.

Banned group

A state prosecutor had requested the maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment, saying Brigitte had played a major role in the alleged attack plan.

Australia's only nuclear research power station, in the Sydney suburb of Lucas Heights, was one of several potential targets cited by prosecutors.

Brigitte was also accused of plotting to attack a US-Australian electronic intelligence surveillance station at Pine Gap, near Alice Springs, and military bases across the country.

France's top anti-terrorist judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, accused Brigitte of setting up a terror cell in Australia in alliance with the Pakistani Islamic militant group, Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Lashkar-e-Toiba was banned in Australia in November 2003, a month after Brigitte was deported for immigration offences.

Brigitte's lawyer, Jean-Claude Durimel, told reporters he was considering an appeal but needed to discuss matters with his client, AFP news agency reports.

"The sentence is grotesque," said Harry Durimel, who also represented Brigitte, describing the trial as a "witch-hunt" based on no evidence.

Training camps

Brigitte, who converted to Islam in 1998, first attracted the attention of French intelligence that year after he travelled to Yemen to attend a Koranic school.

He is accused of running forest training camps in France for would-be Islamic militants, and is thought to have undergone combat training in Pakistan after 9/11.

He moved to Australia in May 2003 and subsequently married an Australian Muslim convert, a former army signaller.

He has been portrayed in Australia as the country's most dangerous link with al-Qaeda