Counsel for Jean-Louis Denis, sentenced by a court in the Belgian capital in January to 10 years’ imprisonment for leading a terror network, on Friday called on the Brussels appeal court to release him. Defence lawyers Sebastien Courtoy and Henry Laquay urged the court to try him as a member, rather than the leader, of a terrorist network and give him a suspended prison sentence. They also denounced the extremely strict conditions under which their client is being detained.
Denis is suspected of recruiting many young people, including minors, in 2013 to go and fight in Syria with armed groups described as terrorists. “He has been in total isolation for three years and for one year now he has been prevented from seeing his son, who was born during his detention,” Courtoy said. “He’s paid enough.
“Jean-Louis is not a leader/recruiter. That description is unjust and dishonest! But he is not a victim either. He said himself: ‘I’ve caused a lot of damage’. He made particularly virulent statements. He did that so that he could be talked about.” Defence attorney Laquay said: “He admits that he was wrong across the board”.
The investigation into Jean-Louis Denis, a high-profile Muslim cleric, began in April 2013 when two students of the Fernand Blum Grammar School in Schaerbeek travelled to Syria. The two, both minors, had often been seen in the cleric’s company.