[JURIST] A French court on Wednesday convicted 24 Muslim defendants of "criminal association in relation with a terrorist enterprise" for helping terrorist combatants in Chechnya and for planning an attack to take place in Paris. Another defendant was convicted of using forged papers, and two were acquitted. Prosecutors brought the criminal association charge against the Paris-area group after investigators raided defendants' homes and found chemicals, fuses, gas cans and protective suits [BBC report], though it was unclear where or how the attack was to be carried out. An accused chemical expert received the maximum 10-year sentence under the criminal association charge, while others received lighter sentences than the prosecution had requested.
The French Parliament approved anti-terror legislation [JURIST report] last December, which in addition to lengthening detention periods for terrorism suspects, reauthorized prosecution of the criminal association charge [AFX report]. A lawyer for one of the defendants convicted Wednesday condemned the convictions, saying "they have been convicted because they were Muslims." AP has more.