German court finds Syrian guilty over U.N. peacekeeper abduction

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 20, 2017 2:16 PM

BERLIN (Reuters) - A Syrian man living in Germany was jailed for three and a half years on Wednesday for his part in the kidnapping of a U.N. peacekeeper near Damascus four years ago.

The man, who was not named, was found guilty of being an accessory to the abduction, according to a statement from the German court that tried him which did not go into details on what he did.

The U.N. peacekeeper, who served in the demilitarized zone between Syria and Israel on the Golan Heights, was kidnapped in Feb. 2013, the Higher Regional Court in the southwestern German city of Stuttgart said.

Prosecutors had in January 2016 identified the Syrian man as Suliman A.-S. under German privacy laws and said they suspected him of being a member of the Islamic militant Nusra Front group.

They said the group had demanded a ransom from the United Nations, the Canadian government and the peacekeeper's family in exchange for his release. The court did not give his nationality.

The U.N. peacekeeper eventually escaped eight months after his abduction, the court said.

It said there was not enough evidence to conclude that Nusra Front was behind the kidnapping nor that the Syrian man was a member of the militant group.

"The accused was found guilty under the Code on International Criminal Law of being an accessory to a war crime against a peacekeeping mission that involved kidnapping for ransom, three counts of attempted robbery by blackmail and grievous unlawful detention," the court wrote in a statement.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; Editing by Andrew Heavens)