False start to Bulgaria’s trial of three Syrians on terrorism charges

A special criminal court in Bulgaria postponed the trial of three Syrians on terrorism charges after the accused asked to be given a copy of the indictment and all the evidence in the case translated into Arabic.

The August 2 trial date was a sequel to an announcement by Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office that charges had been lodged against the three Syrians because they allegedly had attempted to cross from Bulgaria into Turkey to join Daesh – the terrorist organised crime group that calls itself the “Islamic State” – and the Muslim Brotherhood.

Almohammad Abdulhamid, Al Abdahah Fadi and Al Fahdi Yassim, aged 20, 22 and 25, respectively, had refugee status in Germany and had set off on an attempt to reach Syria, travelling via Greece, first failing in an attempt to enter Turkey and then, six months ago, being caught trying to cross the Bulgarian border illegally, according to prosecutors.

The three were brought to court with their hands and feet in shackles. The judge ordered these removed while the accused were in court.

Through their lawyers, they asked to be given a translation of the charge sheet by August 8, as well as access to all evidence in the case, translated into Arabic.

Prosecutors said earlier that charges were lodged against the three on the basis of evidence including material found on their mobile phones.

The three Syrians, who deny wrongdoing, say that the statements in their conversations that led to the terrorism charges were taken out of context. The range of meanings of words in Arabic made ambiguities possible, they said.

Defence lawyers pointed out that the three had no beards, which they said was evidence that the three did not intend to join Daesh, which requires its members to have a “traditional Muslim” appearance.

Their defence counsel asked the court to dismiss the case on the basis of what they said were serious irregularities in the charge sheet. Prosecutors opposed this application.

The trial was adjourned until September 19 2016.

(Photo: Jason Morrison/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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