Terror sentence appeal begins

Two Iraqis sentenced in Sweden to six and seven years in prison for plotting and financing a massive suicide bombing campaign in Iraq in 2004 appeared on Monday before Stockholm's Court of Appeal.

Ali Berzengi, 29, and Ferman Abdulla, 25, were found guilty by a Stockholm district court in May of “receiving and transferring large sums to the terrorist organization Ansar al-Islam with the aim that the money be used for terror crimes.”

The crimes included “among other things taking life and thereby creating fear among the inhabitants of Iraq, as well as seriously destabilizing the basic political and social structures there,” the court added.

The two men, who are the first to be charged under new anti-terror legislation introduced in Sweden in July 2003, were sentenced to seven and six years behind bars, respectively.

If their sentence is upheld in the appeals court, once they have served their sentences they will be deported from Sweden and barred from ever returning, even though one of them is married and has children in Sweden.

The two men are accused of transferring 70,000 kronor to help fund a suicide bombing in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on February 1, 2004, that left more than 100 people dead.

The pair’s defence lawyers argued in the first trial that the money was sent to “people who needed help, for social causes,” and not to pay for bombings.

Berzengi and Abdulla were arrested with two other men in Sweden in April 2004 suspected of direct participation in attacks in Iraq.

Due to lack of evidence however prosecutors were forced to drop the charges against the other two men and to reduce the charges against Berzengi and Abdulla.