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Two Swedes acquitted of plotting terror crimes

Published: 02 Mar 2011 11:10 GMT+01:00
Updated: 02 Mar 2011 13:19 GMT+01:00

Two Swedes of Somali decent have been acquitted of planning terrorist crimes in Somalia by a Swedish court of appeal.

The two men, Mohamoud Jama, 23, and 26-year-old Bille Ilias Mohamed, had been sentenced in December by the Gothenburg district court to four years in prison.

Swedish prosecutors appealed the verdict, only to have the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden release the two men at the conclusion of the trial, pending the announcement of the verdict.

In a unanimous ruling, the appeals court came to the same conclusion as a minority of justices on the district court, namely that the evidence was insufficient to convict the men.

"The appeals court therefore dismisses the case against both people," the court said in a statement

The court ruled that prosecutors hadn't been able to back up their claims, which meant that the court never examined the human rights aspects of the case concerning whether or not the al-Shabaab militia was involved in an armed conflict.

The men had been held in remand for several months in a case in which prosecutors relied on evidence gathered from wiretaps carried out by Swedish security service Säpo.

The original lower court decision had said the two Swedish citizens "had taken it upon themselves, and decided with the Somali Islamist al-Shabaab militia to commit terrorist crimes in the form of suicide attacks."

It said both men were members and sympathisers of the al-Shabaab movement, which has declared allegiance to Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network and controls most of southern and central Somalia.

Both men denied the charges against them, but one of them has admitted that he spent time in an al-Shabaab training camp.

The appeals court however said the evidence presented by prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström was not enough to convict the two.

Tapped phone conversations showed that both Jama and Mohamed "have strong sympathies for the terrorist organization al-Shabaab and the organization's methods and that they ... went to Somalia with the intention to physically join al-Shabaab."

It was shown that "they were in fact in contact with al-Shabaab and ... expressed that they were not opposed to or even wanted to die as martyrs," the appeal court said in its ruling.

However, it pointed out, "it is not punishable ... to have sympathies with terrorist organizations or even to join an organization, if joining does not automatically entail a commitment to commit a (terrorist) crime.

"It is also not punishable to have decided to commit a terrorist crime as long as the personal conviction does not lead to a decision made with another person," the court said.

It could not be ruled out that the two men aimed to have another role within al-Shabaab than that of suicide bombers, the court added.

Jama's lawyer Richard Backenroth said the freeing of his client proved the Swedish judiciary worked well.

"It's a happy end to this story that the prosecutor and security police have been working on," he told the local Göteborgs-Posten (GP) daily.

Prosecutor Qvarnström said Wednesday she was not surprised at the ruling, pointing out that the court had decided at the end of the trial three weeks ago to release the two men pending the verdict.

"This was not completely unexpected," she told the TT news agency, adding that the case had been "very difficult" to prosecute.

Asked whether she planned to appeal to the Supreme Court, she said it might be difficult to get the country's highest court to review a case where the jurisprudence was not in question, but which had been dismissed due to a lack of evidence.

TT/AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

11:28 March 2, 2011 by Rishonim
I live in a country with a very stupid justice system. They let go two terrorist yet they will vest every legal efforts trying to convict a file sharing kid.
11:48 March 2, 2011 by Rebel
Good thing the men in question have not been accused by Swedish women of having sex with them while they were waking up the day after having sex with them. That would be bad.
12:49 March 2, 2011 by flintis
The law is an ass, especially in Sweden.
15:58 March 2, 2011 by truthworthy
This is what i have been arguing since these guys were jailed, Sweden has no business to interfere the civil war in Somalia. These men did not planned anything against Sweden and there is no proof they planned to do violence in Somalia.

Good that they are free now, it was shame they were first jailed for such baseless arguments.
16:19 March 2, 2011 by buschmann
Swedish citizens, who don't have a drop of swedish or european blood in them want to kill swedes by blowing themselfs up and free to walk the streets. A proper tribute for Olaf Palme.
16:36 March 2, 2011 by AHA
"It is also not punishable to have decided to commit a terrorist crime as long as the personal conviction does not lead to a decision made with another person," the court said.

What kind of MAMBO JUMBO is that?

Refugees who abuse the Swedih Citizenship should be deprived of it and sent back to where they came from.
17:01 March 2, 2011 by calebian22
.."but one of them has admitted that he spent time in an al-Shabaab training camp."

No doubt he was on vacation and just learning how to basketweave with a peaceful faction of Al-Shabaab. Ridiculous.
18:48 March 2, 2011 by technoviking
Now they can blow themselves up in Drottninggatan instead of Somalia... Good work.

More excellent Swedish "assimilation" in action.
19:42 March 2, 2011 by Grandson of Swedish Emigrants
OK, when innocent Swedish citizens start to die from terrorists, somebody please go to the homes of the judges that made the following rulings and ask them to assume the responsibility for their actions.

"...Both men denied the charges against them, but one of them has admitted that he spent time in an al-Shabaab training camp.

...Tapped phone conversations showed that both Jama and Mohamed "have strong sympathies for the terrorist organisation al-Shebab and the organisation's methods and that they ... went to Somalia with the intention to physically join al-Shabaab."

It was shown that "they were in fact in contact with al-Shabaab and ... expressed that they were not opposed to or even wanted to die as martyrs," the appeal court said in its ruling.

However, it pointed out, "it is not punishable ... to have sympathies with terrorist organisations or even to join an organisation, if joining does not automatically entail a commitment to commit a (terrorist) crime."

So the bottom line is Swedes will allow people to go overseas to participate in terrorist training camps, come back to Sweden, communicate with terrorists about things that might be done and the judicial system is just fine with that.

Maybe someone should pass a law that says it is illegal to go overseas and train with known terrorist organizations, but then that might be too judgmental!
19:58 March 2, 2011 by Ravioli
Great. Now these two are back in society to help 'culturally enrich' Sweden even more.
20:06 March 2, 2011 by buschmann
It is also not a punishable to have decided to commit a terrorist crime as long as the personal conviction does not lead to a decision made with another person.) Does that mean a person who acts alone can plan and prepare for a terrosit attack. If a person who is acting alone fails to successfully detonate an explosive device is he still innocent?
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