Catholic chaplain jailed for contempt in Germany

20th September 2006, Comments 0 comments

20 September 2006, DUSSELDORF - A Catholic lay chaplain who secretly helped an al-Qaeda terrorist suspect detained in a German prison was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail for contempt of court. Judges, who had earlier fined the 45-year-old Catholic Church employee for refusing to testify at the terrorism trial, ordered him into coercive custody until he was willing to take the witness stand. However, the layman was not detained Tuesday because he immediately began an appeal to a higher German court.

20 September 2006

DUSSELDORF - A Catholic lay chaplain who secretly helped an al-Qaeda terrorist suspect detained in a German prison was sentenced Tuesday to six months in jail for contempt of court.

Judges, who had earlier fined the 45-year-old Catholic Church employee for refusing to testify at the terrorism trial, ordered him into coercive custody until he was willing to take the witness stand.

However, the layman was not detained Tuesday because he immediately began an appeal to a higher German court.

At the trial in Dusseldorf, Ibrahim Mohamed K, 30, and two other defendants face up to 10 years in jail for membership in an offshoot of the al-Qaeda terror group. They are alleged to have tried to raise funds through an insurance scam to finance Islamist suicide bombings in Iraq.

The chaplain at the Wuppertal jail east of Cologne allegedly smuggled letters for one of the Palestinian defendants and looked up the addresses of insurance companies on the internet for him.

The layman claimed all his communications with the prisoner were legally privileged, but the court said internet look-ups were not.

A court spokesman said it was the first time in German legal history that a prison chaplain had been detained under a law allowing up to six months' detention to coerce compliance from witnesses.

DPA

Subject: German news

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