First conviction for terrorist murder in Syria

A Belgian court has made a first conviction for a terrorist murder committed in Syria. Hakim Elouassaki, a returning jihadi fighter, has been sentenced to 28 years in jail.

Hakim Elouassaki was a member of the now banned Sharia4Belgium. He was convicted of murdering a Shi'ite captive in January 2013 because his family couldn't pay the ransom. The matter came to light after he admitted the killing on the phone to his then girlfriend. He first admitted the killing, but later retracted his confession.

The 28-year sentence isn't the highest sentence available for terrorist murder!

VRT's Liesbeth Indeherberge says this is a note-worthy conviction in more ways than one: "There was little evidence. There was no body, no DNA evidence. The victim's identity is unknown, but in court all evidence is admissible. The telephone calls in which the defendant bragged about the murder swayed the judge. The judge said it was proved that the defendant shot from close range on two occasions and tried to film the incident, that it was premeditated. This is an inhuman act, the judge said imposing a 28-year-sentence."

Four other jihadi fighters were acquitted. They had been linked to a decapitation video, but the court ruled that their involvement wasn't really proved.

Seven members of Sharia4Belgium successor, Way of Life, a Salafist movement, were sentenced for taking part or attempting to take part in activities of the group calling itself IS. Six received sentences of up to five years. A defendant who attempted to reintegrate into society got four years.

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