Syrians facing terrorism charges in Bulgaria ‘were beaten during interrogation’, court told

Three Syrians facing terrorism charges in Bulgaria were assaulted during interrogation, one of the accused, Almohammad Abdulhamid, told a court hearing on October 18.

Prosecutors allege that the three – Almohammad Abdulhamid, Al Abdahah Fadi and Al Fahdi Yassim, aged 20, 22 and 25 – who had obtained refugee status in Germany, had sought to travel via Greece and Turkey to Syria to join the ranks of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Islamic State of Iraq and Levant” (ISIL).

Abdulhamid told the court that they were assaulted during interrrogation in the Bulgarian town of Svilengrad in February.

The interrogation was attended by an employee of the State Agency for National Security, who is a witness in the trial, Abdulhamid said.

The witness, who may not be identified, said that there was no violence during the interrogation and after the questioning, the three had been examined by a doctor in Haskovo.

In the terrorism trial, the first of its kind in Bulgaria, evidence includes photos and other data from the mobile phones of the three men.

Another anonymous witness was to testify in the trial, a Syrian recruited by Bulgarian authorities and placed in the same cell to listen to their conversations.

In February 2016, the three had arrived in Greece from Germany and had attempted to cross into Turkey but were not allowed to. Since they could not reach Turkey via the Greek-Turkish border, they had decided to pass through Bulgarian territory on the way to Turkey.

The accused travelled by bus from Alexandropoli to Plovdiv, and on to Sofia. After staying at a hotel in the Bulgarian capital, they boarded a train from Sofia to Edirne in Turkey. At Bulgaria’s border town of Svilengrad, they attempted an illegal crossing into Turkey but were caught by Bulgarian Border Police.

The three were sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for three years, for attempting the illegal border crossing and were fined 200 leva (about 100 euro).

Subsequently, the three were charged with terrorism and taken into custody, on the basis of evidence including the questioning of eight witnesses, including some whose identities were being kept secret, as well as on the basis of forensic examination of their mobile phones.

Should they be found guilty of the charges of terrorism, including terrorism against a foreign country, they could face up to 10 years in jail.

(Photo: Jason Morrison)



The Sofia Globe staff

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