Iraqi Kurd terror trial suspended soon after start

19th April 2005, Comments 0 comments

19 April 2005, MUNICH - The trial of an Iraqi Kurd accused of belonging to a terrorist group got underway on Tuesday in Munich and was immediately suspended by the court to allow the defence more time to study evidence materials.

19 April 2005

MUNICH - The trial of an Iraqi Kurd accused of belonging to a terrorist group got underway on Tuesday in Munich and was immediately suspended by the court to allow the defence more time to study evidence materials.

The trial before the Bavarian State Superior Court is the first ever in Germany under a new law passed after the 11 September 2001 terror attacks under which membership in a foreign terrorist group is a punishable act.

The 31-year-old defendant is charged with providing financial and logistics support from Germany for the 'Ansar al-Islam' terror group. Among others, he is also suspected of being involved in human smuggling.

Both the federal prosecutors and the defence teams immediately filed motions to the court to suspend the proceedings over the issue of key evidence materials gathered in a separate investigation of the suspect by Stuttgart prosecutors.

Both sides said that they had received those materials only a few days ago, too late to be able to prepare adequately for proceedings.

After the 11 September 2001 attacks, Germany realised it was not a crime to be a member of groups like al-Qaeda and the law had to be changed. Previously, suspects were accused of forming local cells of foreign terror organisations.

Prosecutors say the Iraqi, 31, who had a day job in a BMW car assembly plant in Munich, used the rest of his time to spirit people in and out of the country in defiance of immigration laws and to send funds to Iraq by back channels.

His lawyer, Nicole Hinz, says he admits to both trafficking and transactions but denies that either had any political purpose. She said that of 20 persons he brought into Germany, half were women or children, and the sums he sent twice to Iraq were for his family.

German police who had been observing him swooped in December 2003 at Munich's main railway station.

They say they only gradually realised that they had arrested a man who was himself a fighter in the mid-1990s and was now an important operator for Ansar al-Islam, a group believed to have employed suicide bombers.

The group's Islamic hardliners have even reportedly attacked schools in Kurdish areas because they were educating girls.

Federal prosecutors are expected to tell the state superior court in Munich that the man's "central task" was to arrange travel to Iraq for radicals wanting to join the rebellion against the new authorities.

He had also supplied medical equipment to the group and arranged evacuation for wounded Ansar fighters for treatment in Europe.

The trial is expected to last until at least August this year.

DPA

Subject: German news

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