updated 12/16/2004 9:37:53 AM ET 2004-12-16T14:37:53

Ten accused Islamic militants were convicted and sentenced to prison Thursday for their roles in a millennium plot to blow up a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg on New Year’s Eve 2000.

The Algerian nationals and French citizens of Algerian origin who included an alleged associate of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden went on trial in October on charges they were involved in the foiled plot. They were charged with criminal association with a terrorist enterprise that prosecutors allege had links to Islamic networks in Britain, Italy and Spain.

The 10 were sentenced to prison terms ranging from one to nine years.

State prosecutor Christophe Tessier had sought maximum 10-year sentences for three of the suspects, and penalties of between two and eight years for the others.

Cooperation between French and German police led to the arrest in late 2000 of a Frankfurt-based group of Algerians who allegedly planned to attack the market. The bombing “was avoided by a hair,” Tessier said last month.

Strasbourg’s well-known market is set up around the city’s cathedral during the Christmas period and becomes a major gathering place.

France opened an investigation after four suspected Islamic radicals were arrested in Frankfurt, Germany, in possession of a map of Strasbourg and a videocassette showing the market.

The four were convicted in Germany in March 2003 and received prison terms ranging from 10 to 12 years. The German court said the group had planned to blow up pressure cookers packed with explosives, a technique they allegedly learned in Afghan camps.

Those tried in Paris included Slimane Khalfaoui, 29, Yacine Akhnouche, 30, Rabah Kadri, 37 and Mohamed Bensakria, 37 — considered one of bin Laden’s lieutenants in Europe. Bensakria was extradited from Spain in the summer of 2001.

Kadri was arrested in London in 2002 and remains in a British prison. He was tried in absentia.

The six others were mostly suspected to have given logistical support to the plot, notably by supplying false papers to other members of the group.

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