Algeria sentences 12 Islamists to death over 2008 bombing

ALGIERS (AFP) - An Algerian court sentenced 12 Islamist militants to death Wednesday and two more to life imprisonment for their involvement in a 2008 bombing that killed a Frenchman and his driver.

The APS news agency said the accused were all members of Katibat el-Arkam, the most dangerous branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), and were behind several attacks in the Boumerdes region 50 kilometres east of Algiers.

Those given the death penalty are all on the run and were sentenced in absentia by Algiers criminal court, while the two present in court were sentenced to life.

All were found guilty of "forming an armed terrorist group and premeditated voluntary homicide".

The two defendants in court, Khaled Asalah and Brahim Brahim, admitted membership of AQIM and taking part in several attacks.

On June 9, 2008, engineer Pierre Nowacki of the French firm BTP Razel and his Algerian driver were killed by a remotely controlled roadside bomb in the Beni Amrane area east of the capital.

A second blast in the area minutes later wounded seven people.

The Frenchman had been overseeing repair work on a railway tunnel.