Austria's justice system was entering new ground Monday as a Vienna's provincial court wasto hear the first case of homegrown Islamist terrorism in the country, charging two with al- Qaeda membership. ( dpa )
Mohamed M., aged 22, and his wife, 21-year-old Mona S., two second-generation migrants of a Middle Eastern background, face charges of "membership of a terrorist organization, namely al-Qaeda, respectively other internationally active radical Islamist terrorism networks", after having produced an Islamist internet threat video.
They are also charged with having plotted bomb attacks during the upcoming European football championship held in Austria in June, but no weapons or explosives were found at the time of their arrest on September 12.
According to their defence counsel Lennart Binder, both accused deny all charges.
Ahead of the trial, Austrian legal experts were at odds whether Mona S., who refuses to remove her burka during the trial, could be forced to do so, the Austrian press agency said.
According to Austrian legislation, faces must be at least partly uncovered during a trial. Other experts argued that wearing the burka could be interpreted as the suspect's right to remain silent.
As Austria has no legal precedent for such a case, court will decide at the beginning of the trial on Monday morning.
The two suspects accused the authorities of various abuses during their pre-trial remand, both allegedly suffered from sleep deprivation and Mohamed M. said he was beaten and refused participation in Friday prayers.
Vienna's prosecution started an inquiry into the accusations, but confirmed that Mohamed M. was excluded from prayers for security reasons.
In the video posted in March on a website run by the couple, a group calling themselves "Voice of the Caliphate" had voiced threats against Germany and Austria, urging both countries to stop their involvement in Afghanistan.