Bosnia’s State Court sentenced on Wednesday a former ISIS fighter to three years in prison after he agreed with the Prosecutor’s Office to plead guilty for having fought in Syria and Iraq.
“The Court ruled on the crime of organising a terrorist group, as was described in the indictment, and sentenced him to three years in prison,” judge Branko Peric told BIRN.
Munib Ahmetspahic was arrested at the Sarajevo airport in 2018.
The court found that he spent time in Syria and Iraq from 2013 until 2018 fighting for ISIS and ‘Jabhat al-Nusra’. He joined terrorist activities and was wounded during one such operation in Syria.
Bosnia’s Prosecutor's’ Office said Ahmetspahic communicated and coordinated activities with other Bosnian citizens currently located in Syria and Iraq. He also helped organise the departure of another Bosnian citizen to that region.
Ahmetspahic was previously acquitted of charges of organising a terrorist group in the case of Mevlid Jasarevic who is serving 15 years behind bars for shooting at the US Embassy in Sarajevo in 2011. Ahmetspahic was accused of destroying evidence related to the shooting.
“As for the verdict, Munib, both the Prosecutor and the Court have given you another chance to stop this kind of activity,” the judge told Ahmetspahic, who was placed in pretrial detention on November 22, 2018. The time he spent there is included in his sentence.
The judge said at the beginning of the hearing that the defendant agreed he will testify against others if needed.
Prosecutor Dubravko Campara explained that the reasons behind the agreement are that Ahmetspahic came to Bosnia and Herzegovina as an invalid whose leg was amputated and that he cooperated well with State Police officers and prosecutors.
Ahmetspahic agreed to testify about what happened in Syria, about “who met with whom,” who went there and who came back, Campara said.
“The assessment and opinion by neuropsychiatrist expert Abdulah Kucukalic saying that he (Ahmetspahic) is completely deradicalised is especially interesting,” the Prosecutor said, adding that Ahmetspahic admitted he made a mistake and “wants to live in Bosnia and Herzegovina and wants his children to grow up with their father.”
Ahmetspahic’s lawyer, Rusmir Karkin, said that his client had already told State Police by himself what he did in Syria and why he came back.
“After a few months which he spent in Syria in 2013, he became an invalid. He wished to come back. He married a Bosnian woman and fathered two children. For two years he was working on finding a safe way to come back to Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Karkin said.
“He was prepared to face the consequences, and he brought back his wife and children to Bosnia,” he added.
Ahmetspahic himself expressed regret over his actions, saying that he was manipulated into doing what he did.
“No matter how naive it was of us to make such a decision (…) I would advise the youth to not fall for such things. Whoever wants to fight for justice should fight for it in a legal way,” the former ISIS fighter said.