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AFGHANISTAN

French ‘militants’ deported from Pakistan

Pakistan has deported three Frenchmen who have been held in secret since they entered the country illegally 10 months ago to fight NATO troops in neighbouring Afghanistan, officials said on Thursday.

French 'militants' deported from Pakistan
A panorama of the Pakistan border with Afghanistanan at Torkham, Pakistan in July, 2012. Photo: A Majeed/AFP

Investigators are expected to question the men in France, where the case is likely to draw parallels with Mohammed Merah, the 23-year-old who shot dead seven people in southwest France in March 2012 after returning from Pakistan.

Investigators said Pakistani police arrested the trio on May 28th last year after they entered the country illegally from Iran.

They were detained along with Naamen Meziche, another Frenchman of North African extraction previously known to Western security services as a presumed member of Al-Qaeda.

"They said they came to Pakistan to deepen their knowledge of Islam and to fight in Afghanistan," one investigator told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Meziche's arrest was announced last June but French and Pakistani officials had kept quiet about the other three.

At the time, Pakistani officials said Meziche was probably heading to Somalia.

But Western experts said he had been en route to Pakistan's semi-autonomous tribal belt on the Afghan border, an Al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold.

Investigators believe Meziche could have been taking the other three to the tribal belt, a rear base for the Taliban's war in Afghanistan and a location of Al-Qaeda training camps.

Officials say the three men left France in January 2012, telling their families in Orléans, south of Paris, that they were going on pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, but five months later they were detained in Pakistan.

On Thursday a French diplomatic source confirmed that the last of the three suspects was now back on French soil, after being deported over the last 48 hours.

Their precise link to Meziche, who will also be deported, remains unclear.

It also remains unclear whether they will face trial. A new law banning French citizens from going abroad for militant training came into force last December, after their arrest.

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CRIME

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim’s x-ray

A Paris court on Wednesday convicted a surgeon for trying to sell an X-Ray image of a wounded arm of a woman who survived the 2015 terror attacks in the French capital.

Surgeon fined for trying to sell Paris terror attack victim's x-ray

Found guilty of violating medical secrecy, renowned orthopaedic surgeon Emmanuel Masmejean must pay the victim €5,000 or face two months in jail, judges ordered.

Masmejean, who works at the Georges-Pompidou hospital in western Paris, posted the image of a young woman’s forearm penetrated by a Kalashnikov bullet on marketplace Opensea in late 2021.

The site allows its roughly 20 million users to trade non-fungible tokens (NFTs) – certificates of ownership of an artwork that are stored on a “blockchain” similar to the technology used to secure cryptocurrencies.

In the file’s description, the surgeon wrote that the young woman he had operated on had “lost her boyfriend in the attack” on the Bataclan concert hall, the focus of the November 2015 gun and bomb assault in which jihadists killed 130 people.

The X-Ray image never sold for the asking price of $2,776, and was removed from Opensea after being revealed by investigative website Mediapart in January.

Masmejean claimed at a September court hearing that he had been carrying out an “experiment” by putting a “striking and historic medical image” online – while acknowledging that it had been “idiocy, a mistake, a blunder”.

The court did not find him guilty of two further charges of abuse of personal data and illegally revealing harmful personal information.

Nor was he barred from practicing as prosecutors had urged, with the lead judge saying it would be “disproportionate and inappropriate” to inflict such a “social death” on the doctor.

The victim’s lawyer Elodie Abraham complained of a “politically correct” judgement.

“It doesn’t bother anyone that there’s been such a flagrant breach of medical secrecy. It’s not a good message for doctors,” Abraham said.

Neither Masmejean, who has been suspended from his hospital job, nor the victim were present for Wednesday’s ruling.

The surgeon may yet face professional consequences after appearing before the French medical association in September, his lawyer Ivan Terel said.

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