Chaplain accused of helping al-Qaeda prisoner

10th August 2006, Comments 0 comments

10 August 2006, DUSSELDORF - A Catholic chaplain to a German prison was accused during a court hearing Thursday of smuggling letters and doing internet searches on behalf of a detained al-Qaeda suspect. The priest, 45, who was called as a witness during the trial of three alleged al-Qaeda plotters, declined to answer questions about the allegations, saying this would breach a religious vow of silence. No decision has yet been made on whether to prosecute the priest. Presiding judge Ottmar Breidling said he

10 August 2006

DUSSELDORF - A Catholic chaplain to a German prison was accused during a court hearing Thursday of smuggling letters and doing internet searches on behalf of a detained al-Qaeda suspect.

The priest, 45, who was called as a witness during the trial of three alleged al-Qaeda plotters, declined to answer questions about the allegations, saying this would breach a religious vow of silence.

No decision has yet been made on whether to prosecute the priest. Presiding judge Ottmar Breidling said he would subpoena the vicar- general of the Catholic diocese of Cologne to etablish whether or not the witness could claim a right of silence.

Prosecutors did not disclose at the trial in Dusseldorf on Thursday what had been in the smuggled letters or what the priest searched for online.

Correspondence to and from the prisoners at the Wuppertal jail east of Cologne is normally opened and checked by prison staff.

A lawyer representing the priest said he could not testify without a clearance from the Catholic church. In addition, his legal obligation to keep secret any disclosures received during the sacrament of confession applied to his pastoral work generally.

The judge challenged this.

"This has got nothing to do with pastoral work," Breidling replied.

Ibrahim Mohamed K, 30, and two other defendants have been on trial for the past three months. They face up to 10 years in jail for membership in a foreign terrorist organization. They are alleged to have tried to raise funds for suicide bombings in Iraq.

DPA

Subject: German news

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