The regional court in the Bulgarian town of Haskovo has ordered a Moroccan, Naufal Zahri, wanted by Interpol on terrorism charges, remanded in custody for 90 days.
The spokesperson of the Bulgarian Prosecutor-General’s office, Roumyana Arnaudova, told Bulgarian National Television on February 13 that 90 days was the timeframe for dealing with a request for Zahri to be extradited to Morocco.
Arnaudova said that according to an official notification received by the Bulgarian authorities, Zahri was wanted on charges of setting up a group to commit acts of terrorism, the illegal use and possession of firearms directed against the national security and public order in Morocco, receiving training, raising funds and recruiting large groups of people to join the so-called “Islamic state” terrorist group.
Zahri was detained at the Bulgarian border on January 13 2018. He was one of a group of 27 people, including six men, six women and the rest children, who were held after crossing the border illegally and sent to a detention centre in the town of Harmanli.
A check of his documents, which included a Syrian identity card, a Syrian passport, a Spanish identity card, a family status document and a Syrian driving licence, established that he was being sought by Interpol.
The documents had been falsified through the replacement of photographs on them, Arnaudova said. Facial identification established that the person was being sought by the Moroccan authorities.
On February 9, prosecutors ordered Zahri held in 72-hour detention. His court appearance in Haskovo was on February 12.
In the courtroom, Zahri denied being a terrorist. He said that he had lived in Syria for four years with his family. At the moment his wife and children are in Morocco. He said that he was aware that he was being sought by Morocco, because he had lived in Syria, and this was why he had come to Bulgaria illegally.
His lawyer, Anton Popov, said that Zahri did not want to be returned to Morocco. Should he be found guilty, Zahri would be jailed for 30 years.
“He fears being killed in a prison in Morocco,” Popov said. The lawyer said that Zahri did not want to be extradited to Morocco, but instead wanted to be tried in Bulgaria and serve any custodial sentence in this country.