Europe

Dutch court convicts nine for terror offences

Visitors arrive at courthouse in Amsterdam ahead of the verdict. 10 December 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Visitors arrived at the court to hear the verdict

A Dutch court has found nine people guilty of terrorism offences after one of the biggest terror trials ever to take place in the country.

At a heavily guarded courtroom in Amsterdam, the eight men and a woman were sentenced to up to six years.

Six men were convicted as members of a network aiming to recruit young people to fight with Islamic State (IS) and other jihadi groups in Syria.

Two of those are believed to be in Syria and were tried in absentia.

Three were described as followers, including the woman, who was jailed for seven days for a retweet which constituted incitement.

The nine were arrested last year in a large police investigation into jihadist activities in the Schilderswijk suburb of The Hague.

"The criminal organisation aimed to incite and recruit 'brothers' to travel to fight in Syria and financed them to that end," presiding Judge Rene Elkerbout said.

Prosecutors said the group had formed "a criminal and terror organisation".

The nine had all denied any wrongdoing, saying that religious freedom and freedom of speech had allowed them to proclaim a pro-jihadist message.

The BBC's Anna Holligan, who was in court, says the trial has raised fundamental questions in the Netherlands about the limits of freedom of speech, freedom of religion and activism.

The defendants' full names were not given in court. Azzedine C, 33, was sentenced to six years in jail, as were two men tried in absentia - Hatim R, 26, and Anis Z, 24, who are believed to be fighting in Syria.

Hicham El O, 30, who was described as a returned fighter from Syria and active in the group, was sentenced to five years in prison.

Rudolph H, 25, and Oussama C, 19, were both jailed for three years.

Jordi J, 22, was sentenced to 155 days and Moussa L, 41, was jailed for 43 days. Imane B, 26 - the only woman in the group was given seven days in jail for sending an inciting message.

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