Bin Laden’s ‘bodyguard’ jailed

Rabat – A Moroccan ex-Guantanamo detainee accused of briefly being a member of Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguard was given a 10-year jail sentence by a Moroccan anti-terrorism court on Friday. Mohamed Ben Moujane was handed over to Morocco by United States authorities in October.

He denied terrorism but admitted visiting an al-Qaeda training camp and meeting the group’s leader, Bin Laden, in Afghanistan.

Ben Moujane, 25, had been charged with “membership of a criminal group with the aim of preparing to commit terrorist acts” and “failing to denounce crimes against state security”.

According to the court, Ben Moujane was part of the al-Qaeda leader’s corps of bodyguards before he was arrested by Pakistani troops in 2001 and handed over to American troops.

His lawyer, Idriss Oua Ali, called on the court to acquit the defendant and argued that he had already spent five years in Guantanamo.

It was the toughest sentence yet handed down by the court to seven ex-Guantanamo detainees to have appeared before it.

Three other former inmates of the notorious US detention centre were last year given jail sentences of between three and five years, while five others were acquitted by the court in a judgement last month.

In a separate case, the court sentenced 17 members of the al-Qaeda-linked Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC) to up to 10 years in jail.

Six of the suspects had been handed over by Algeria, where they had been arrested on suspicion of recruitment by the GSPC.

Another Moroccan, Anouar Mjerar, was sentenced to seven years in jail for trying to establish links with the GSPC and for preparing terrorist acts.

Mjerar was extradited from Greece in October 2005.

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