Leader of radical Belgian Islamist group sentenced to 12 years

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 11, 2015 3:38 AM

ANTWERP, Belgium (Reuters) - A Belgian court sentenced the head of Islamist group Sharia4Belgium to 12 years in prison on Wednesday, ruling that his group was a terrorist organization that convinced young people to join Jihadist fighters in the Middle East.

The sentence in Belgium's largest trial of alleged militants came as the country was on high alert after authorities uncovered a plot last month to kill police across the country.

While 32-year-old Fouad Belkacem did not fight in Syria, unlike most other defendants, judge Luc Potargent said he was the driving force in the organization. Prosecutors had asked that he be sentenced to 15 years.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)