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12 Post-Sept. 11 Suspects Acquitted by Dutch Court

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From Associated Press

A Dutch court acquitted 12 Middle Eastern men of terrorism-related charges Thursday, ruling that prosecutors relied on uncorroborated intelligence to accuse them of recruiting young Muslims for suicide attacks.

All the defendants were ordered released, though two were convicted on relatively minor counts of possessing false passports and forgery. The verdict was issued by a three-judge panel after a two-week trial that took place last month.

The 12 men, from nine Middle Eastern countries, were arrested in a European anti-terrorism sweep after the Sept. 11 attacks. Prosecutors originally charged them with “lending support to enemies of the Netherlands in a time of war or armed conflict,” referring to the Dutch participation in peacekeeping operations in Afghanistan.

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The charges against 10 defendants were later downgraded to “membership in a criminal organization” when prosecutor Joe Valente acknowledged he didn’t have enough evidence to convict them on the more serious charge.

In another terrorism-related case, French authorities investigating the Sept. 11 attacks have arrested a Moroccan and a German in Paris, judicial officials said Thursday. The officials said they believe there’s a link between the two.

On Sunday, Karim Mehdi, 34, a Moroccan, was taken into custody at Charles de Gaulle airport, the officials said. Mehdi said he was headed to Reunion island in the Indian Ocean to look for tourist sites to attack, they said.

On Monday, Christian Ganczarski was apprehended at the airport. He allegedly had links to the April 2002 suicide bombing of a synagogue on a Tunisian island.

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