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Two men sentenced to life in prison for terror crimes in Syria

Published måndag 14 december 2015 kl 09.54
"We see that this will be a positive signal"
(0:21 min)
Göteborg district court. Photo: Erica Hedin/ Sveriges Radio
Two men have been on trial at the Gothenburg district court for terrorist crimes in Syria. Photo: Erica Hedin/Sveriges Radio

Two men from Gothenburg are sentenced to life in prison for terrorist crimes in Syria, Gothenburg district court announced today.

The strongest evidence against the two men, aged 30 and 32, was a film where the throats of two prisoners were slit. The court found that the prosecution could prove that the two men were actively taking part in the murders, even though they were not the ones holding the knife.

According to the verdict, the murders and the filming of the murders were intended to install fear in those people in Syria and other countries who do not follow what the murderers claim to be "the true muslim faith". The court thus shares the prosecution's view that this was a terrorist crime.

The court also deems that is it proven that the two men fought in Syria during the spring of 2013.

The verdict is welcomed by Haisam A-Rahman, who is one of two coordinators of the work against violent extremism in Gothenburg. He says it is important to Sweden as a whole, to show that people can be put on trial for what they do also in other countries.

"This will be a positive signal to the work that we are already doing today in trying to stop individuals from joining the Islamic state, or even committing any kind of crime - within our borders, bit also abroad," A-Rahman told Radio Sweden.

This is the first time that the difference between terrorist crime and crimes against international law has been tried in a Swedish court. In order to convict someone of a terrorist crime, the prosecution must prove that the intention was to cause fear among others. That is somewhat more complicated than a crime against international law, where it must be proven that the men had fought with a group in an armed conflict. 

During the trial, both men denied all charges. The 30-year-old man said it was not his voice in the film. He accused the prosecution to jump to conclusions just because there are similarities between his clothing and the clothes worn by the man in the film, and just because the usb-stick was found at his house. There are also pictures of him posing with weapons, but he said he was in Turkey and Syria as a volunteer doing relief work.

The 32-year-old is in a wheelchair due to injuries he has suffered after being shot. He was caught on camera in several films, among others one where he filmed himself in a house where he was a sniper.

In a comment after the verdict was announced, the man's lawyer Lars Salkola told news agency TT he does not expect to be able to talk to his client about the sentence, as the man is suffering from a brain damage.

"I will speak with his close relatives. It is not possible to communicate with my client," said Salkola.

The lawyers of both men have told TT that they will appeal the verdict.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
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