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article imageFrench men jailed for threatening train terror attack to steal phones

By AFP     Dec 9, 2015 in Crime

Three men in France were sentenced to up to 30 months in prison on Wednesday for trying to steal the mobile phones of train passengers by threatening a terror attack over its intercom.

The three men, aged 19 to 23, took control of the intercom on a train travelling through the southern Pyrenees region on November 18, just five days after the attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.

They made a Muslim call to prayer before demanding that passengers hand over their mobile phones or face an attack.

The longest sentence went to a 21-year-old who was also convicted for condoning terrorism after police found pictures of him posing with an assault rifle and "jihadist banner" on his mobile phone.

All three, who come from the southern town of Beziers, claimed they were only joking around on the train.

"It wasn't serious," the main defendant, who was not publicly named, told the court in Perpignan.

"We were just joking around. I have always condemned Daesh (the Islamic State group) and everything that happened in Paris."

It was a "joke in very bad taste by foolish youths," one of their lawyers told the court.

But all three were found guilty of extortion and given prison terms ranging from one year to 30 months.

"This was a train of terror. They knew they were going to scare people," said prosecutor Gael Candela.

"I was paralysed. I immediately thought of a bomb and having my throat cut," one passenger told the court.

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