French nuke scientist on trial for 'terror plot'
Paris: A Franco-Algerian nuclear physicist
went on trial on Thursday for allegedly plotting terror attacks in
France, where an Islamist's killing spree has already
overshadowed the presidential campaign.
A week after police shot dead Franco-Algerian Mohamed
Merah for killing seven people in and around Toulouse, Adlene
Hicheur stood trial charged with criminal association as part
of a terrorist enterprise.
French police arrested Hicheur, a researcher studying
the universe's birth -- the Big Bang -- at the European
Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN), in October 2009
after intercepting emails he wrote.
The trial began Thursday afternoon in a Paris
courtroom and was to last two days, with the court to examine
35 emails between Hicheur and an alleged Al Qaeda contact.
At the start of the trial, Hicheur, 35, denounced the
case against him.
"I see a lot of confusion and inaccuracies," he told
the court. "It would be too tedious to revisit each of them
(but) the assertions about me... are inaccurate, are subject
After more than two years in preliminary detention,
Hicheur appeared visibly tired and thin during his court
appearance. His father and brothers were in court to support
Following Hicheur's arrest at his parents' home near
CERN, which lies on the Franco-Swiss border northwest of
Geneva, police discovered a trove of Al Qaeda and Islamist
France's DCRI domestic intelligence agency's
suspicions were raised following a statement from Al Qaeda in
the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that was sent to President Nicolas
Sarkozy's Elysee Palace in early 2008.
Police carried out surveillance on several email
accounts including Hicheur's and his exchanges with Mustapha
Debchi, an alleged AQIM representative living in Algeria.
In the emails Hicheur proposed "possible objectives in
Europe and particularly in France", mentioning for example a
French military base at Cran-Gevrier, close to CERN.