The dead eyes of a terrorist
AM – Thursday, 8 February , 2007
Reporter: Rafael Epstein
TONY EASTLEY: French terror suspect, Willie Brigitte, has refused to answer charges in a French court that he planned to blow up nuclear and military facilities in Australia.
After three years and four months in custody, Brigitte told the court he would not cooperate because there had been a biased investigation into his case.
Europe Correspondent, Rafael Epstein was in the courtroom in Paris.
RAFAEL EPSTEIN: Willie Brigitte looks as he does in the one photo often used in the media. Thick set, with short dreadlocks, thin rimmed glasses and a beard.
He walked into the elegant wood panelled courtroom in handcuffs, wearing a black tracksuit, and he was flanked by two armed guards. He hugged his lawyer and looked impassively around the courtroom.
He told the court after three years and four months in jail he has no trust in the system, that all hope is gone now. He claimed an impartial investigation would show he’s not a terrorist, and that terrorism is against Islam and against his view of life.
He was quiet and appeared unfazed by the seriousness of the allegations. What’s curious is that much of the evidence against him is drawn from his own admissions under interrogation.
He supposedly detailed his extensive training in explosives, weapons and military tactics, taught to him by the militant group Lashkar e Toiba in Pakistan.
The court heard when he was arrested in Australia, it followed him telling the French consulate in Sydney that he’d lost his passport.
When arrested he’d had copies of publicly available website documents. They detailed Australian military and nuclear installations. He also had a copy of the classic Chinese text, the Art of War by Sun Tzu.
And there appears to be a few witness statements detailing his role as leader of training weekends in France in the late 1990s, and accusations he led a major terrorist cell in France before going to Australia.
The three judges only have to decide whether he associated with terrorist groups. But now says he’s unwilling to address any of those charges in court.
His lawyer is Harry Durimel.
HARRY DURIMEL: Because he felt that the interpretation that they were doing or giving of his first words were wrong, so he decided not to speak, and that’s what he said this morning.
He’s not going to say a word because he’s misunderstood.
RAFAEL EPSTEIN: But can I ask how he can plead innocent if he has initially said he did go to training camps and that he did run training camps in France? How can he then say that he’s innocent of the broad charge against him?
HARRY DURIMEL: Is it a crime to learn your religion? Is it a crime to deepen your knowledge in your religion? Is it a crime when you go and work humanitarian action? Because they don’t say everything he did, but Brigitte went to Chechnya, to Bosnia. He went to do humanitarian action in his religion.
(‘Humanitarian action’ in Islamo-speak means killing and terrorizing infidels & Jooozzz…)
If these people that he was learning religion with were only teaching weapon fighting and killing, that’s not where he would have gone. He went there for the part that he needed, as he said, to fulfil his religion.
RAFAEL EPSTEIN: One of France’s former intelligence chiefs says the case against Brigitte is weak, and the French court, he says, is doing Australia’s work, because it was only in Sydney that authorities could tenuously link him to any specific plot.
In Paris this is Rafael Epstein, for AM.