Germany’s first ever ISIS trial starts
Germany - Middle East - The Guardian

Germany’s first ever ISIS trial starts

Kreshnik Berisha, 20, told he could serve just three years in jail in exchange for confession and information on Islamist group.

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The first suspected member of Islamic State (Isis) to go on trial in Germany has been offered a reduced sentence of between three and four years in prison on Monday in exchange for a full confession and information on the inner workings of the Islamist group.

Kreshnik Berisha, 20, was arrested at Frankfurt airport in December and charged with membership of a terrorist organisation. According to state prosecutors, he had spent six months in Syria, where he underwent firearms training and was put on guard duty. He is also said to have worked as a medic for the extremist group.

“On top of this, he took part in combat missions that occasionally lasted several days,” his official charge read. Investigators say he was paid the equivalent of £40 a month, and was given food and clothing.

There is no evidence Berisha was planning an attack on Germany, and his defence lawyer, Mutlu Günal, said his client had since “turned his back” on Isis.

In the runup to the trial in Frankfurt, Günal told the Taz newspaper: “[Berisha] returned disappointed and traumatised. He saw and experienced terrible suffering there.”

Berisha could potentially disclose details of everyday life inside the group, which is fighting in Iraq and Syria. The first day of the trial revealed some details, as intercepted phone calls between the accused and his sister in Germany were read aloud in court. “I chill, go and fight, do my job for Allah,” he wrote to her in November via Skype. At one point, his sister told him: “You’ll regret this by the time you’re 25. You’re young, stupid, and naive.”

His uncle has said the family is distraught and relieved that Berisha is back in Germany. “Better in jail in Germany than in Syria at war,” he said.

Berisha, who was born near Frankfurt to Kosovan parents, played for an amateur Jewish football club, Makkabi Frankfurt, as a teenager. According to reports in German media, he joined a radical Islamist group while studying construction engineering at a vocational college.

He and six other students are reported to have travelled to Syria by bus via Istanbul in July.

“We don’t want to destroy his future with all our power,” the judge, Thomas Sagebiel, said as he offered Berisha a more lenient sentence in exchange for his cooperation. Günal told reporters his client would respond to the state’s offer on Friday.

Six further trial days have been planned until November.

Last week, the German interior ministry outlawed Isis activities in Germany. A number of politicians have warned of the danger posed by Islamist fighters returning to the country from Syria and Iraq.

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