December 1, 2014 / 2:38 PM / 3 years ago

Dutch court sentences 20 year-old for fighting in Syria

THE HAGUE (Reuters) - A Dutch court sentenced a young man on Monday to three years in jail for premeditated murder and preparing a terrorist attack after fighting with Islamist rebels in Syria and urging others to join the insurgency.

The tribunal in The Hague said the man, identified only as Maher H., took part in armed conflict in Syria in 2013-2014 and, after his return to the Netherlands, spreading materials to incite others to commit similar crimes.

European governments are worried that thousands of Western volunteers traveled to Syria and Iraq to join militant groups may return and carry out attacks at home.

Around 120 Dutch nationals are believed to have joined hardline Islamic militant groups and criminal investigations have been launched into the activities of 60 other suspects.

Maher H. had testified that he had gone to do humanitarian work, but judges sided with prosecutors, who had showed pictures of him wearing camouflage and toting a Kalashnikov rifle.

“The court found him guilty of premeditated murder and preparing a terrorist attack,” a court statement said.

The defendant’s wife was acquitted of charges of recruiting for the insurgents and a third defendant was sentenced to 200 hours of community service.

Reporting by Anthony Deutsch; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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