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Lebanese leftist Georges Abdallah, jailed for 28 years, to be freed

Published on 12 January 2013, by M. Tomazy.
Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a pro-Palestinian Lebanese leftist who has spent 28 years in French prison, will be released and expelled from France, French media reported.
Thursday’s court decision upheld a December ruling, which had been appealed by the general prosecutor. As part of his conditional release, Abdallah, 62, is required to leave France before January 14.

Abdallah joined the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in the 1960s, before joining the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Factions.

He was arrested in 1984 over the murders of Charles Robert Ray, an American military attaché, and Yacov Barsimentov, an Israeli embassy advisor, in Paris in 1982.

In 1987, he was condemned to life in prison for complicity in the assassinations, even though the court was not able to present concrete evidence against him. A former director of the French intelligence agency, Yves Bonnet, later said that Abdallah was the victim of “an illegal intelligence conspiracy.”

Over the years, Abdallah became a controversial symbol of 1980s terrorism for some, and of miscarriages of justice for others. He became eligible for parole after 18 years in prison, but each of his seven applications for release were turned down since 1999, a major breach of French legal procedures and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The United States and Israel pressured France over the years to prevent Abdallah’s release, under the pretext that he had never apologized or expressed regret for the murders.

His lawyer, Jacques Verges, who has defended prominent clients like Carlos and Slobodan Milosevic, denounced American influence on Abdallah’s case.

“His imprisonment is a scandal, a shame for France,” Verges told French channel iTélé Thursday. “It is time for French justice to act, not like the whore of an American pimp, but like an independent justice.”

Abdallah is expected to return to Lebanon once released.