Wednesday, 11 March 2015
The so-called “Somali branch” trial will open before the 12th chamber of the court of appeal in Brussels with the first hearing on Friday. The trial should last several days. In May 2014, the criminal court in Brussels sentenced 19 people for involvement in terrorist activities with the Al-Shabab militia in Somalia. Ten of them appealed against their sentences. Of the accused appealing their sentence, 3 had been sentenced in absentia: Rachid Benomari, suspected of being the leader of the group, Mustapha Bouyahbaren, and Mohamed Saïd. They had later appealed their sentence and are being judged for a second time.
Last October Rachid Benomari was sentenced to 18 years in prison, Mohamed Saïd to 5 years and Mustapha Bouyahbaren to a 5-year suspended sentence on top of time already served (37 months).
One of Rachid Benomari’s attorneys, Hamid El Abouti, revealed he would ask for his client’s wife to be heard at the hearing on Friday. She had been sentenced in the first instance for assisting her husband when he left to fight with Al-Shahab.
The attorney of the main suspect also said he would request a joint trial with another case for which his client is being investigated under suspicion of having committed murders in Somalia.
Some of the accused in this trial will face charges of involvement in terrorist activities after actively fighting with jihadists in Somalia in 2011 and 2012, the jihadists in question being the Al-Shahab group, known to be terrorists.
Other suspects will answer the same charges for giving logistical support to the fighters (funds and ID papers).