Hungary jails Syrian IS commander over imam beheading

Hungary jails Syrian IS commander over imam beheading
2 min read
03 December, 2020
A Syrian man was sentenced to life in prison for crimes against humanity.
Police and a soldier patrol the streets during the night curfew [Getty]

A Hungarian court sentenced a Syrian man to life imprisonment Thursday for terrorism and crimes against humanity including the beheading of an imam in Syria in 2015.

The man was a commander of the Islamic State group, and must spend at least 30 years behind bars, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Court of Budapest sent to AFP.

"His task was to make a 'death list' of 'enemies of Islam'," the court statement said.

"He was personally involved in the execution of several people, including the beheading of a tribal leader."

The man has been identified in local media as 28-year-old F. Hassan.

His lawyers said they would appeal the verdict, as did prosecutors, who had sought a life term without parole.

According to prosecutors, the defendant commanded a small IS unit in Homs province in 2015 tasked with terrorising and executing civilians and religious leaders who refused to side with the group.

Prosecutors said he personally took part in the beheading of an imam in the town of al-Sukhnah, and in the murder of another civilian in the area in May 2015.

His unit also killed at least 25 people in the town including women and children, prosecutors say.

Authorities in Malta, Greece and Belgium as well as in Hungary took part in the investigation, which was coordinated by the European judicial cooperation agency Eurojust.

Some 10 witnesses in Belgium and Malta, as well as in Hungary, gave testimony.

The man, who had been given refugee status in Greece, was held at Budapest airport in December 2018, after he presented forged travel documents for himself and a female travel partner.

His defence lawyer had argued that prosecutors' evidence - including wire-tapped telephone calls, video footage of the murders and the man's own statements - failed to support the accusations.

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