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French court orders conditional freedom for Lebanese militant

Jan. 10, 2013 8:55 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 10, 2013 8:55 P.M.)
PARIS (Reuters) -- A French appeals court granted Lebanese leftist militant Georges Ibrahim Abdallah conditional release on Thursday, rejecting arguments that he remained a threat three decades after attacks on US and Israeli diplomats.

Parole for Abdallah, imprisoned in France since 1984 and still in custody for now, is contingent on his being deported to Lebanon, a step in the hands of the French foreign affairs ministry, the Paris prosecutor's office said.

The former head of the Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Brigade, Abdallah was sentenced to life in 1987 for his role in the 1982 murders in Paris of US military attache Charles Ray and Israeli diplomat Yacov Barsimantov, and the attempted murder of US Consul General Robert Homme in Strasbourg in 1984.

A lower Paris court granted Abdallah parole in November - prompting a rebuke from the US ambassador to France who said he deserved life imprisonment - and prosecutors appealed.

In backing the November decision, the appeals court rejected prosecution warnings that the 61-year-old was still a threat.

Abdallah, who had made seven previous attempts to be released, won conditional liberty in 2003, but that decision was struck down on appeal.
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