Switzerland’s top criminal court has ruled that a suspected jihadist must remain in prison until he can stand trial in mid-August.
The Federal Criminal Court’s June 27 decision, first reported by Zurich’s Tages Anzeiger newspaper on Monday, stems from the Zurich prosecutor’s charges that the man recently travelled from Switzerland to Syria to help Islamic State (IS).
He is accused of breaking Swiss law that prohibits helping, supplying or distributing propaganda for the al-Qaeda and IS terror groups. Recruitment for the organisations also is illegal.
The unidentified man ordered held by the court (German, French and Italian only) is accused of recruiting youth in Winterthur, north near Zurich, to travel to Syria in 2014 with the aim of waging holy war. Winterthur has emerged as a place where Swiss authorities fear young Muslims are being radicalized, amid claims that an IS cell operates out of a mosque in the city.
Syria events in question
The court decision, which is posted online (in German only), says the man lived in a camp in Aleppo, war-ravaged Syria’s largest city and its former commercial hub, and Swiss authorities believe he not only acted as an armed guard there but also participated in “combat operations” in support of IS.
In the summer of 2012 rebels captured parts of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo, where there has been intense fighting in recent months.
Five years of conflict in Syria have killed more than a quarter-million people. It also has allowed IS to claim its own territory across parts of Syria and bordering Iraq and created Europe's biggest refugee crisis since World War II.
Through his lawyer, Stephan Buchli, the man countered that he only participated in trips to distribute aid despite appearing in photographs where he “poses in the IS fighter-style”, documents say.
Authorities in canton Bern asked for the man, who has been held by authorities since after his return from Syria at the end of 2015, to be remanded for trial this past May.
The court said in dismissing the defendant’s appeal of his pre-trial detention that the incomplete criminal investigation was of “decisive importance”. Among the unanswered questions, it said, was the role played by an Islamic-inspired martial arts association to which the defendant belongs.
swissinfo.ch and agencies