A Bulgarian court has sentenced a Swiss man to five years in prison on terrorism and arms trafficking charges.
The man, K.B. from Suhr, canton Aargau, was arrested in 2018 on the Bulgaria-Turkey border en route to Idlib, Syria. His car was carrying three rifles, a pistol, 400 rounds of ammunition and 24 knives.
His father had reported his departure to the authorities after he discovered a letter from his son.
The man explained that he had wanted to help civilians in Idlib, Syria, before pleading amnesia. After examination a psychiatric expert found him responsible for his actions.
The special criminal court found him guilty and sentenced him to four years for terrorism and five years for the illegal transfer of firearms and ammunition to the country. He will serve a total sentence of 5 years behind bars, the Bulgaria prosecutor’s office said in a statement.
K.B. was also ordered to pay a fine of CHF16,000. He can still appeal his case.
Figures by the Federal Intelligence Service from November 2019 show that 92 jihadist “travellers” have left Switzerland for conflict areas since 2001, of whom 77 have gone to Syria and Iraq. Of these, 31 have been confirmed killed and 16 have returned to Switzerland.
There are currently about 20 suspected jihadists – men, women and minors - with Swiss passports, some of them in custody of non-state powers in Syria and Iraq.
The Swiss government has rejected calls to actively repatriate Islamic militants with Swiss nationality from Syria or Iraq. The Swiss authorities want the jihadists to be tried under international legal standards in the country where they committed their crimes. In January, three Swiss citizens suspected of being members of Islamic State group were repatriated to Switzerland from Turkey. The two men and one woman face criminal proceedings, according to Swiss public broadcaster SRF. It is unclear why repatriation took place in this instance, but the Turkish authorities say it was carried out with the cooperation of the Swiss authorities.
At present there are 60-70 criminal proceedings underway in Switzerland against suspected terrorist sympathisers who have allegedly disseminated propaganda for banned organisations. Such actions violate the law that prohibits such groups as Al-Qaida and Islamic State.
In addition, the ministry for migration has opened a handful of active cases to possibly withdraw Swiss nationality of individuals linked to the Syrian conflict. Another 15-20 cases are under review.
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