Death penalty call sparks anger at Paris bombs trial

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PARIS, Oct 3 (Reuters) Bombers behind a wave of deadly blasts on the Paris rail network deserved the death penalty, an Algerian accused of helping to finance the attacks said, angering the relatives of victims.

Rachid Ramda, who denies complicity in the attacks that killed eight people and injured 200, made his comments on the second day of his trial at the Paris Assizes Court.

''If it had been my father, I think my reaction would have been a little extreme, I would have demanded the death penalty for the people who did that,'' Ramda said yesterday of a man burned alive in the attack on the St Michel suburban rail station in 1995.

France abolished the death penalty in 1981.

One woman, sitting with relatives of those killed or maimed in the attacks, left the court in tears, covering her ears to block out Ramda's voice.

Ramda, already serving a 10-year term for terrorist conspiracy connected to the 1995 attacks, added: ''I morally and spiritually support the families of the victims, as I have always done.'' That drew more protests from members of the public attending the trial.

Ramda faces life in jail if convicted of complicity to murder in the attacks. He denies any role in the worst bombing campaign in mainland France since World War Two.

Eight people were killed and some 200 others maimed and wounded in attacks on the St Michel and Musee d'Orsay suburban railway stations, and the Maison Blanche metro station.

The blasts were claimed by Islamic militants as punishment for French support of Algerian authorities, who scrapped multi-party elections in 1992 that an Islamist party had been poised to win.

Boualem Bensaid and Smain Ali Belkacem, who were convicted of two of the three Paris bombings in trials in 2002 and jailed for life, are due to give evidence to the trial. Ramda denies knowing them.

At his first trial in March 2006, prosecutors said evidence seized at Ramda's London address, including documents relating to Algerian radicals and a payment slip with his fingerprints, showed he sent 5,000 pounds (10,150 dollars) to the Paris bombers.

Ramda told the Liberation newspaper on Monday he did not contest the fingerprints, only the interpretation put on their discovery.

Reuters PD DB0958

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