The district court in Pazardjik held the first hearing of a case in which 14 people are accused of promoting religious hatred and warmongering, Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) reported on February 25.
Presiding judge Kristina Pounteva rejected a request by defence lawyers, who requested more time to examine the evidence collected by prosecutors, . The indictment bill alone is 164 pages and the evidence is 30 volumes, the report said.
Separately, prosecutors plan to submit evidence, later in the trial, collected by Austrian authorities, which is meant to show that the defendants had ties to similar groups in Austria and Germany, prosecutor Neli Popova said, as quoted by BNR.
One of the 14 people on trial was Ahmed Musa Ahmed, who was convicted in an earlier “radical Islam” lawsuit and was handed a heavier sentence by the Plovdiv appellate court on July 1 2015.
Ahmed and his co-defendants in the current lawsuit were arrested in November 2014, following raids by the State Agency for National Security, police, gendamerie and prosecutors, which included searches at 40 different addresses.
Ahmed was charged with promoting religious hatred through several actions, including translating and publishing printed materials, his preaching at the Abu Bekir mosque in Pazardjik, mujahedeen gestures and by displaying items with the Islamic State logo, prosecutors have said. Several other defendants were charged with aiding Ahmed in distributing printed materials, as well as displaying, storing or selling items with the Islamic State logo.
(Ahmed Musa Ahmed at the time of his arrest in November 2014. Screenshot from private broadcaster bTV)