November 28, 2014 / 12:42 PM / in 3 years

Jail term of over four years sought for German Islamic State suspect

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - A state prosecutor on Friday demanded a prison term of over four years for a 20-year-old German man accused of fighting with Islamic State insurgents in Syria, in the first trial of its kind in Germany.

Defendant Kreshnik B., waits for the start of his trial in a courtroom in Frankfurt September 15, 2014. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

The defendant, identified only as Kreshnik B., who was born in Germany to parents from Kosovo, has shown no remorse about his actions, prosecutor Dieter Killmer told the court.

Islamic State (IS) has captured large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, beheaded some Western prisoners, massacred many non-Sunni Muslims and declared a caliphate ruled under sharia, or Islamic law, in the heart of the Middle East.

Thousands of Western volunteers have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join militant groups. The trend has raised fears in Europe and the United States of attacks by returning fighters, and law-enforcement authorities there are cracking down on them.

Kreshnik B. is charged with being a member of Islamic State between July and December 2013. Prosecutors said he had received military training and participated in battles.

“I’ve got my doubts about whether he has any genuine remorse,” Killmer said during closing arguments. Killmer read an answer from testimony taken from the defendant when he was asked whether a beheading could be justified.

“‘It depends on which sins one has committed’,” Killmer quoted the defendant saying. He asked the court for a sentence of four years and three months in prison.

Defense attorney Mutlu Gunal argued that his client had gone to Syria because he wanted to help people and that his sentence should not be more than three years and three months. “It’s pure speculation what he did in Syria,” Gunal told the court.

Kreshnik B. smiled at his family and chatted quietly with his attorney in the courtroom. He appeared with a full beard and wearing black jeans and a gray hooded jersey. He declined an invitation by Judge Thomas Sagebiel to make a statement.

A verdict is expected on Dec. 5.

Prosecutors say Kreshnik B. traveled to Syria with others to fight and got weapons training, fulfilled guard and medical duties and took part in a recruitment campaign near Aleppo.

The defendant was arrested at Frankfurt airport on his return in December 2013 and has been held in custody since.

Security authorities say about 550 German citizens have joined IS in Iraq and Syria and about 60 have been killed, some in suicide attacks. Around 180 are believed to have returned.

Reporting by Jonathan Gould; Writing by Erik Kirschbaum; Editing by Noah Barkin and Mark Heinrich

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