LISBON (Reuters) - A 65-year-old Moroccan citizen was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Tuesday after being convicted by a Portuguese court of recruiting young people to fight in Syria.
Abdesselam Tazi was also found guilty by the court in Lisbon of financing the recruitment using forged credit cards.
Portugal’s public prosecutor said Tazi was an intelligent man who recruited the people, mostly from Morocco, to travel to Portugal and then joined Islamic State in Syria.
The court, which found him guilty of a total of seven crimes, found no evidence that Tazi was a member of the militant organization himself.
“The sentencing caught me by surprise,” Tazi’s lawyer Lopes Guerreiro told reporters, adding he planned to appeal against the court’s decision.
“The individual was absolved of belonging to an international terrorist organization but he was condemned for having recruited people for an organization he is not part of.”
Trials of this kind are unusual in Portugal and the country’s justice minister has said the number of Portuguese citizens who joined Islamic State or other similar groups is “not significant”.
Portugal has never had a militant Islamist attack on its territory.
Reporting by Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Axel Bugge and Alison Williams