World Bulletin/News Desk
A 20-year-old German man charged with joining ISIL militants in Syria last year went on trial in Frankfurt on Monday, the first such case in Germany.
Kreshnik B., who was born in Germany and whose parents are from Kosovo, is charged with membership of ISIL (or ISIS) between July and December 2013.
German prosecutors say Kreshnik B. travelled to Syria with others to fight and once there received weapons training, fulfilled guard and medical duties and took part in a recruitment campaign close to the city of Aleppo. They say he engaged in combat on three occasions.
Kreshnik B. was arrested at Frankfurt airport on his return in December 2013 and has been held in pre-trial custody since.
His lawyer, Mutlu Gunal, told the court: "I would say the accused is suffering from post-traumatic stress," having probably witnessed much civilian suffering.
Dressed in a black hooded jersey, black T-shirt and grey tracksuit trousers, Kreshnik B. smiled as he entered court.
"You're a very young man, without a significant criminal record," lead judge Thomas Sagebiel said.
"We consider giving you a chance to help us exercise leniency," he said, adding this required Kreshnik B.'s full cooperation. "It mostly depends on you."
Security authorities say about 400 German citizens have joined ISIL in Iraq and Syria and about 40 have died, some in suicide attacks. More than 100 are believed to have returned.
Prosecutors said they did not believe Kreshnik B. had planned any attacks on his return.
Germany last week announced a ban on ISIL, making IS propaganda, symbols and activities illegal. Austria said on Monday it planned a similar crackdown.
Chancellor Angela Merkel has broken with Germany's post-war policy of not sending arms to war zones and has begun to send weapons and equipment to Iraqi Kurds fighting the militants.Last Mod: 15 Eylül 2014, 16:11