The lawyers of three Dutch suspects will tell a court in the Belgian city of Mechelen their side of the story in a terrorism case on Wednesday. The three Dutch-Moroccans are part of a group of 14 people suspected of planning an attack in Belgium and recruiting fighters for a ‘holy war’ in Chechnya.
The Dutch-Moroccans Soufiane B., Redouan A. and Samir S. (surnames withheld) were arrested in November 2010 and extradited to Belgium. They are no longer suspected of planning an attack, but are accused of being members of a terrorist organisation.
The three men have always denied any involvement. Soufiane B.’s lawyer Paul Bekaert declined to comment on the content of his defence plea, but he did say he disputes the Public Prosecution’s accusations. The PPO has demanded five years in prison against his client.
A total of 14 terrorists are on trial in Mechelen, including three Russians with a Chechen background and eight Belgians with a Moroccan background. Three of the suspects are believed to be active in Sharia4Belgium, an extremist Islamic movement. The highest sentence demanded is 10 years.
Redouan A. is suspected of leading the recruitment of boys in the Netherlands for the jihad. He is believed to have recruited Samir S., a youth worker. He himself was recruited by one of the Belgian suspects. The three men are thought to have travelled to eastern Turkey in 2010 to take part in the jihad. During an extradition hearing in Amsterdam, the defence said the trip to Turkey was completely legal, but the extradition judge found it conceivable that the objective of the journey may have been to participate in the Islamic fight against ‘unbelievers’.
The verdict in the Mechelen terrorism case is expected in a couple of months.
© Radio Netherlands Worldwide