January 21, 2007 / 10:27 AM / 12 years ago

Three jailed in Bosnia for planning suicide attack

(Updates with lawyers, detail, background)

By Maja Zuvela

SARAJEVO, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Bosnia’s state court jailed a Swede, a Turk and a Bosnian on Wednesday for planning a suicide attack in Europe.

Judge Mehmed Sator said Swede Mirsad Bektasevic, 19, Denmark-based Turk Abdulkadir Cesur, 21, and Bosnian Bajro Ikanovic, 29, all Muslims, wanted to press Bosnia and European governments to withdraw their forces from Iraq and Afghanistan.

"Bektasevic and Cesur are sentenced because ... they travelled to Sarajevo to carry out a terrorist attack on the territory of Bosnia or another European country," Sator said.

Bektasevic was given 15 years and four months and Cesur was sentenced to 13 years and four months. Ikanovic was sentenced to eight years for supplying Bektasevic with explosives to be used in a suicide belt, Sator said.

The three men shouted Allahu akbar (God is Greatest) after Sator refused them to speak after sentencing.

Their lawyers said they would appeal against the sentences.

"It seems that the constant presence of international observers during the trial has led the court to bow to their pressure," Casur’s lawyer Semso Temim told reporters.

Another Bosnian Muslim, Senad Hasanovic, was jailed for two years and six months for illegal possession of weapons and explosives. He and the three others had pleaded not guilty.

Asim Bajric, also a Bosnian Muslim, pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced to two years in prison in July.

Bosnia, where mostly liberal Muslims make up almost half of the population, has been in the spotlight since the 2001 al Qaeda attacks on the United States because of hundreds of former Islamic fighters who stayed in Bosnia after the 1992-95 war.

Six Algerians who were arrested on suspicion of planning attacks on the U.S. and British embassies in late 2001 and were handed over to Washington in early 2002 have been detained at the U.S. Guantanamo Bay base in Cuba since.

Sator said police found Bektasevic’s will during a raid on his apartment in which he would leave 500,000 Swedish krona ($71,210) to his relatives and a branch of al Qaeda.

Bektasevic, who was born in Serbia, and Cesur came to Bosnia in 2005 to plan the attack, Sator said.

They and Ikanovic were arrested in October 2005 in Sarajevo and police confiscated explosives, weapons and a video which showed how to make a bomb.

Four Muslims in Denmark were arrested shortly after the Sarajevo arrests in a case that was said to be connected. They went on trial last month and pleaded not guilty to charges of planning an attack in Europe.




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