Fri, Jun 09, 2006 - Page 6 News List

Tunisian court convicts man in synagogue bombing

AP , TUNIS, TUNISIA

A court on Wednesday convicted an accomplice in the 2002 suicide attack on a historic Tunisian synagogue that killed 21 people -- mostly German tourists, judicial officials said.

Belgacem Nawar, 44, was given a 20-year sentence by the Tunis court -- the first conviction in the case in Tunisia.

Nawar is the uncle of Nizar Nawar, who died after ramming a gas-laden truck into the synagogue on the resort island of Djerba in April 2002.

Tunisian investigators linked the attack to al-Qaeda. Nawar was detained shortly after the attack, which killed 14 Germans, five Tunisians, as well as two French citizens.

Nawar, a welder from Djerba was said to have helped his nephew put a gas tank on the truck. He was charged with complicity in murder and making explosive devices.

Nawar could have faced the death penalty. His lawyers had abruptly left the courtroom before the verdict to protest what they called an unfair and hasty trial.

According to investigators, the attacker's brother, Walid, had obtained a satellite telephone that was used just hours before the attack to contact Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is the alleged mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on America and is now in US custody.

Nawar acknowledged having helped his nephew buy the truck, but said he had no idea what he planned to do with it or the modifications he would make to the vehicle.

"I am in no way involved in this attack. I am innocent," he said before the verdict.

The only other convictions in the Djerba case were handed down last month in Spain.

The National Court there delivered sentences of five years each to a Spaniard and to a Pakistani for helping to finance the attack.

This story has been viewed 2078 times.
TOP top