Islamists on trial for plot to murder Iraqi PM
20 June 2006, STUTTGART, GERMANY - Three men went on trial under top security in Germany Tuesday, accused of plotting to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister of the day, Iyad Allawi, during a 2004 visit to Berlin.
20 June 2006
STUTTGART, GERMANY - Three men went on trial under top security in Germany Tuesday, accused of plotting to assassinate the Iraqi prime minister of the day, Iyad Allawi, during a 2004 visit to Berlin.
Police had tapped their phones and arrested Ata R, 32, Mazen H, 26, and Rafik Y, 31, before they could act, prosecutors said.
Security was tightened and Allawi, whose party polled poorly in elections last year and was not re-appointed, visited Germany without incident for talks that won some new aid for Baghdad.
The trio, who face trial in Stuttgart - and another two men who went on trial in Munich, also on Tuesday - are all accused of raising funds or recruiting for the Iraqi terrorist organization Ansar al- Islam.
Prosecutors say Ata R was Ansar's leader in Germany. Full names were not provided under German news guidelines protecting privacy.
Defence lawyers at the Stuttgart trial demanded the indictment, which was presented in German and Kurdish, be translated into Arabic too, contending that one of the accused knew hardly any Kurdish.
The begin of the trial was also marred by technical problems with microphones that made it difficult to hear through the defendants' bullet-proof glass cubicle in the Stuttgart court which was specially built to try terrorists in.
Germany changed its law after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States to make it a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail for persons on German soil to belong to a foreign terror group.
Ansar al-Islam was reportedly founded in 2001 in northern Iraq and opposes both the secular Kurdish authorities and US occupation. Prosecutors say it has a fund-raising and recruitment network in western Europe.
In the parallel case in Munich, both defendants, who have been in custody for a year, refused to testify apart from identifying themselves. Court officials expect the trial with its jigsaw of evidence amassed by police to last to the end of year or beyond.
A 34-year-old man is charged in Munich with being a member of Ansar al-Islam and a 40-year-old with being a supporter.
In January, an Iraqi national, Lokman M, was jailed for seven years for membership in the same group. He was expected to testify at the Stuttgart trial.
A seventh alleged member of Ansar al-Islam was detained in the transit zone at Frankfurt airport in Germany last week. The news magazine Der Spiegel said Burhan B, 36, an Iraqi, was in the course of leaving Europe permanently, bound for Jordan.
Der Spiegel said that Germany authorities had been monitoring him since November 2003 after tapping a phone conversation between him and Ata R. Prosecutors declined to comment on that report.
Subject: German news