Austrian court bans defendant in terrorism trial for wearing burka

3rd March 2008, Comments 0 comments

Vienna's provincial court on Monday banned a female defendant from trial for refusing to remove her burka in what is the country's first case of homegrown Islamist terrorism.

3 March 2008

VIENNA, Austria - Vienna's provincial court on Monday banned a female defendant from trial for refusing to remove her burka in what is the country's first case of homegrown Islamist terrorism.

Together with her husband, 22-year-old Mohammed M, Mona S, 21, faces charges of membership of a terrorist organization.

The court senate, chaired by judge Norbert Gerstberger, ruled that the veil covering her face violated Austrian legislation, saying faces must be at least partly visible during a trial.

Judges had to be able to see the faces of the defendants to judge their reactions during the trial, the court said. The defendant was excluded from participating in the trial.

Mona S argued that her religion forbade her to remove her burka, saying doing so violated her freedom of religion. The court argued that her refusal constituted an "individual interpretation" and could be regarded as contempt for the court, as it was promoting Islamist thinking.

The two second-generation migrants of a Middle Eastern background, face charges of "membership of a terrorist organization, namely al-Qaeda, respectively other internationally active radical Islamist terrorism networks," after having produced an Islamist internet threat video.

They are also charged with having plotted bomb attacks during the upcoming European football championship held in Austria in June and attacks on European politicians, but no weapons or explosives were found at the time of their arrest on September 12. Both defendants face lengthy prison sentences if found guilty.

[Copyright dpa 2008]

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