A German court in Frankfurt has sentenced a man to three years and nine months in jail for traveling to Syria to join the militant group ISIL. The trial was the first of its kind in Germany, where over 500 people are believed to have joined the fighting in the Middle East. CCTV’s Ira Spitzer reported this story from Berlin.
Due to German privacy laws, the man is known only as Kreshnik B. Authorities said he went to Syria for six months last year to join ISIL. Although he is 20 years old, the man stood trial as a juvenile because the court deemed he lacked maturity to be tried as an adult, saving him from a potentially longer sentence.
Court sentences German ISIL fighterA German court in Frankfurt has sentenced a man to three years and nine months in jail for traveling to Syria to join the militant group ISIL. The trial was the first of its kind in Germany, where over 500 people are believed to have joined the fighting in the Middle East. CCTV’s Ira Spitzer reported this story from Berlin.
During his trial, Kreshnik B. said he still wanted to die as a martyr and that beheadings could be justified. But there was no evidence that he engaged in direct combat and because he willingly left ISIL authorities believe he may change his mind after a few years behind bars.
“Sentences might seem light in an international comparison but also I think the evidence is quite clear that locking people up isn’t necessarily helping,” said Philipp Rotmann, associate director of the Global Public Policy Institute.
German authorities recently estimated that about 550 of its citizens have travelled to the Iraq and Syria and around 180 have returned. Figuring out how to keep that number from growing is a challenge. The German government recently called on Muslim states to help in the global fight against ISIL.
“We must deny ISIS the ideological breeding ground. And Europeans and Americans can’t do that, it needs to be Muslim states who say publicly that ISIS does not act accordingly to Islam,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said.
Germany and other European countries have recently changed their laws to make it easier to prosecute people suspected of supporting ISIL. While those laws are designed to lessen the chance of an attack on European soil, there is also concern that they could lead to other problems.
“Do you throw more policemen at the problem or do you tighten the laws to give the existing policemen more rights to detain people or to prosecute people and usually the latter is cheaper. And that’s a danger,” Rotmann said.
The German legal system is currently processing about 40 cases involving suspected ISIL supporters.