France gives jail terms to 12 in Syria jihadist network

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Paris, Apr 12: Twelve members of a France-based jihadist network that sent fighters to Syria were given prison sentences today, including a woman who had taken her three children to join her husband there.

The court in Paris heard that the group had become radicalised after attending a mosque in Villiers-sur-Marne in the Paris suburbs where they came into contact with their "guru", a radical imam called Mustapha Mraoui.

France gives jail terms to 12

Mraoui, who is on the run, and another man, Karim Assani, who held a religious post at the mosque, were considered by prosecutors to be the organisers of the network. They were each sentenced to 10 years in prison in absentia.

Investigators believe Assani has probably been killed fighting in Syria. Only five of the 12 defendants were present in court, including the 27-year-old woman who had taken her three children to Syria.

The court heard that she is now in the process of divorcing her husband whom she was visiting there. She was sentenced to five years in prison, three of which are suspended.

Her lawyer Daphne Pugliesi said the sentencing had been "balanced". "It takes into account what each of them did, but also what each of them is."

France says around 600 French citizens have travelled to Syria and Iraq to join the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, and some 280 of them have returned. Most of the gunmen and bombers who killed 130 people in the series of attacks on Paris in November had been to Syria.

PTI

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