Last updated: 21 November, 2012

Lebanese militant paroled in France but held pending appeal

Georges Ibrahim Abdallah, a former guerilla in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) who has spent 28 years in French jails, was granted parole Wednesday but remained behind bars following an appeal by the state.

The decision was criticised by the US ambassador, who argued that Abdallah had never expressed remorse and could yet be a threat if released.

Abdallah, 61 and a Lebanese national, was arrested in 1984 and sentenced to life in prison three years later for his involvement in the 1982 murders of US military attache Charles Robert Ray and Israeli diplomat Yacov Barsimantov.

His eighth appeal for parole was granted on condition that he be deported immediately, but his hopes of being freed were dashed when state prosecutors launched their appeal.

Abdallah had been eligible for parole from 1999 onwards but failed in seven previous bids to be released.

“I am disappointed by the decision today,” US Ambassador to France Charles Rivkin said in a statement.

“Life imprisonment was the appropriate sentence for Mr Abdallah’s serious crimes, and there is legitimate concern that Mr. Abdallah would continue to represent a danger to the international community if he were allowed to go free.

“I am hopeful that French authorities will appeal today’s decision and that it will be overturned,” the ambassador said.