PARIS (JTA) – A former al-Qaida member was sentenced to 18 years in prison for participating in the 2002 bombing of a Tunisian synagogue.
A Paris court ruled Feb. 5 that Christian Ganczerski, a German convert to Islam, helped kill 21 people when he gave the signal to bomb an ancient monument and synagogue in Djerba. Most of the victims were European tourists.
Prosecutors had asked for a 30-year prison sentence and tried to demonstrate that Ganczerski had ties to senior al-Qaida terrorists, according to The Associated Press.
Walid Nawar, the brother of the man who rammed himself and a fuel tanker packed with explosives into the Djerba synagogue, also was sentenced to 12 years in prison for helping carry out the attack.
Ganczerski claimed he "knew nothing" about the bombing, the French news agency AFP reported.
A few hours before the attack, the suicide bomber asked Ganczerski "not to forget him in his prayers" in a recorded cell phone conversation. Prosecutors said the conversation was an attack signal, but the defense lawyer said the bomber simply "needed to talk to someone he knew was pious, close to God," AFP reported.