Austrian terror suspect sentenced to four years
( dpa ) - An Austrian court on Wednesday evening found a Muslim couple guilty of being members of al-Qaeda in the country's first case of homegrown Islamist terrorism.
Mohamed M, 22, was sentenced to four years in prison for producing an al-Qaeda-promoting video, after jury deliberations that lasted well into the night, the Austrian press agency reported.
He was found guilty on all charges of membership in a terrorist organization, threatening the Austrian government, attempted coercion and approving of criminal actions. The verdict however remained below the maximum sentence of 10 years.
The court handed down a sentence of 22 months without the possibility of parole to his wife Mona S, aged 21, who assisted her husband with translations. She was found guilty of being a member of a terrorist group.
The couple, second-generation migrants of a Muslim background were accused of having planned bomb attacks in Austria during the upcoming European football tournament and against European politicians, and producing an threatening Islamist video distributed on the internet.
The trial showed the difficulties Austria's legal system encountered regarding the issue of Islamic extremism. Mona S was excluded from court proceedings for her refusal to remove her burka, a full-body veil, thereby violating Austrian trial regulations demanding at least partial visibility of faces.
Mohamed M repeatedly claimed the presiding judges were biased against him because of his religion and leveled accusations of mistreatment by the Austrian authorities.
In the course of the trial, which stretched over 10 days, Mohamed M told the court that he played a key role in the release of Hannelore Krause, a German citizen abducted in Iraq together with her son, Sinan.
Hannelore Krause was released in July 2007 while her son remains in captivity.
The verdict was appealed by the defendant's legal counsel.