March 13, 2020 / 11:15 AM / a month ago

Swiss court overturns acquittal of Muslim group officials in video case

ZURICH (Reuters) - Switzerland’s highest court overturned the acquittals of two officials from the country’s biggest Islamic religious group and rejected a third’s appeal of his conviction, in a case over videos that prosecutors say illegally glorified violence.

The Federal Court ordered an appellate court to rehear the cases of leaders of the Islamic Central Council of Switzerland (ICCS).

Prosecutors charged the three ICCS officials in 2017 over videos posted online in 2015 that included interviews with leaders of Jabhat al-Nusra, at the time al Qaeda’s Syrian branch. The charges were made under a law that bans al Qaeda and the Islamic State.

One of the men was convicted, while two were found not guilty because the court held that prosecutors had failed to provide sufficient detail about the allegations.

In a ruling released on Friday, the Federal Court rejected the basis for the two acquittals. In the case of the man who was convicted, it rejected an appeal, holding that the lower court had not violated federal law by ruling that he had acted with intent.

Prosecutors say the 2015 videos were propaganda in which the filmmakers failed to explicitly distance themselves from al Qaeda activities in Syria. The ICCS contends the video was intended to shed light on a troubled region, not glorify extremists.

Reporting by Michael Shields

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