Innocent Man Saved By French Police From Terrorist Frame-Up By In-Laws
By Hans Sherrer
Justice:Denied magazine, Issue 25, Summer 2004, p. 10
Abderazak Besseghir was cleared by the French police of charges he was an international terrorist when his in-laws and three accomplices were arrested for framing him. On June 16, 2004, his mother and father in-law, and their three accomplices were convicted for actions related to the frame-up.
Abderazak Besseghir, a 27 year-old French citizen of Algerian descent, worked as a baggage handler at Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport. Acting on an anonymous tip, on December 28, 2002 police searched his car parked near the Air France terminal. Hidden inside the spare tire in the trunk, police found a bag with "an automatic pistol, a machine gun, five cakes of plastic explosive, two detonators, and a slow burning fuse." 1 Also in the bag was "a religious tract written in Arabic, a pro-Palestinian document and an agenda with notes on flights to America." 2 Besseghir was arrested for his suspected involvement in international terrorism.
Besseghir's father, two brothers and a family friend were also arrested for questioning. However the police soon discovered that Besseghir and his family didn't fit the profile for terrorists. Besseghir was a Muslim, but they were quiet middle class people without police records or ties to any Islamic radicals. It was also learned that Besseghir had passed a rigorous background check before being hired by Europe Handling and given clearance to work in secure airport areas. Investigators also learned that a lab analysis was unable to match the fingerprints of Besseghir or the other four arrested men to those found on any of the items in the bag. 3
Besseghir's family members and friend were released after three days in custody since the police were unable to find any ties between them and a radical group or the weapons found in the car. Besseghir wasn't as fortunate. Since the weapons and incriminating documents were found in his car, he was charged on January 1, 2003 with "association of evildoers in relation with a terrorist enterprise" and violating French weapons laws.
However, Besseghir proclaimed his innocence. He told police he had been set-up and he had never seen or handled any of the items found in his car's trunk. That claim was supported by the fingerprint analysis. A police investigator was quoted as saying, "He behaves as if this affair has nothing to do with him." 4
Although charges were filed against him, the absence of any evidence proving Besseghir knew about the bag in his car's trunk contributed to police investigators looking seriously at his claim of being set-up. He didn't know who was behind it, but Besseghir suggested it could be his in-laws, Hamed and Fatia Bechiri. He told police that his wife Louisa had died in a fire in September 2002, and his in-laws wanted him out of the way so they could get custody of his daughter. 5
Police identified and found the person who provided the tip about the cache in Besseghir's trunk. He was Marcel Le Hir, a former French Legionnaire. Investigators discovered that Le Hir was friends with Besseghir's in-laws, and on January 10th he admitted that he and another person had planted the bag of items in Besseghir's car. Le Hir also told police it was part of a plot by Besseghir's in-laws to frame him as a terrorist. That same day Besseghir was released after being jailed for ten days, and he was reunited with his daughter.
Besseghir and his daughter after his release from custody.
(Photo credit: SCANPIX/EPA)
Le Hir, his accomplice, and Besseghir's mother and father-in-law were arrested. A warrant was issued for a fifth person, his wife's uncle, who was believed to have fled to Algeria.
On June 16, 2004, Besseghir's mother and father-in-law and their three accomplices were convicted for actions related to the frame-up. All five plotters were sentenced to a five month prison term, and ordered to pay Besseghir a total of $18,000 in damages.
Fortunately for Abderazak Besseghir, French police continued their investigation after he was arrested and charged, and his prosecutor was willing to admit he was the wrong guy when presented with proof of his innocence. Since the finding of the bag's contents in his car was likely sufficient to support his conviction, Besseghir owes his freedom to the conscientious French law enforcement authorities who saved him from a wrongful conviction as a terrorist and a sentence of many years in prison.
1Terrorism suspect 'framed by in-laws', Jon Henley (staff), The Guardian, London, UK, January 11, 2003.
2Airport Weapons Stash: Terror or Family Feud, Joe Kovacs, WorldNetDaily.com, January 2, 2003.
3Terrorism suspect 'framed by in-laws', Jon Henley (staff), The Guardian, London, UK, January 11, 2003.
4Airport Weapons Stash: Terror or Family Feud, Joe Kovacs, WorldNetDaily.com, January 2, 2003.
5Terror Scare 'Family 'Feud', Staff, WorldNetDaily.com, January 10, 2003.