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Ukrainian court convicts Frenchman over Euro 2016 attack plot

Grégoire Moutaux during a court hearing in the Ukrainian town of Liuboml on 21 May 2018
Grégoire Moutaux during a court hearing in the Ukrainian town of Liuboml on 21 May 2018 STR/AFP

A Ukrainian court on Monday sentenced a Frenchman to six years in jail after finding him guilty of planning a terror attack in France during the Euro 2016 football championship.


"The court today sentenced a 27-year-old French citizen over the handling of illegal weapons, ammunition and explosives... and preparing to carry out a terror attack" on French soil, a spokeswoman for the regional prosecutors, Nataliya Murakhevych, told the AFP news agency.

Grégoire Moutaux was detained on the Ukrainian border with Poland in May 2016.

Ukraine's SBU security service said the alleged far-right extremist was found with a huge weapons cache and intended to stage 15 strikes against mosques and synagogues in France.

The SBU said Moutaux, a worker for an agricultural cooperative, had entered Ukraine in December 2015 and acquired his arsenal in the war-scarred east.

SBU-released video footage of him and an accomplice shows a huge cache of arms that included 125 kilos of weapons-grade explosives.

Moutaux was arrested while he was trying to cross into Poland and SBU then said he had requested the help of a Ukrainian national to carry his arsenal haul into France.

Murakhevych told AFP that in 2015, Moutaux offered a Ukrainian serviceman 16,000 euros for five Kalashnikov assault rifles, two grenade launchers, 125 kilos of TNT and 100 electric detonators.

But the soldier informed the SBU about the proposal and "agreed to carry out a special task to disclose the criminal activity of the foreigner", she added.

The French authorities have made no official comment so far.

Moutaux did not give any explanation for his actions during the trial, his lawyer Oleg Lyagutko told AFP.

"He only asked the court to take into account that he is not socially dangerous and wants to return to society as soon as possible and live a normal life," Lyagutko said.

The lawyer added he would "partly" appeal against the ruling.

"Most likely, I will appeal the verdict regarding the prosecution for the preparation of the terrorist act, since there is practically no evidence," Lyagutko said.

(with AFP)

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