Sweden charges two with 'terrorism' committed in Syria

STOCKHOLM (AFP) - Swedish anti-terror prosecutors on Monday (Nov 23) charged two men with two decapitations committed in Syria in 2013, as the judge told media the two were allegedly Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) members.

"The two men charged in Gothenburg district court are Swedish nationals who went to Syria to fight," chief prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnstrom said in a statement without providing any details on their identities.

Qvarnstrom also told Swedish news agency TT that a film clip of the decapitations, which allegedly took place in Aleppo in April 2013, shows the two men had "expressed joy" over the killings.

One of the men was arrested at the end of July and has been held in custody since then. The other, arrested at the same time, was briefly detained and then released but barred from leaving the country.

The pair are accused of terrorism crimes, and are facing secondary charges of violating international law and murder.

"The crime was intended to damage the state of Syria and instill fear in the people, that is the reason for the terrorism indictment," Qvarnstrom said in the statement.

"The difficulty is to fully determine whether these men have been part of an armed group and acted within the framework of an armed conflict or not," she added.

The court's chief judge Ralf Larsson has requested tighter security in the courtroom when the trial begins on Thursday.

"We have two individuals who are supposedly part of ISIS who will be on trial. This is the first case in Sweden where it is being alleged that they have been down there to fight and committed crimes down there. There is naturally a risk and threat scenario," he told regional daily GT.

Swedish media said one of the men was a 32-year-old former junior champion boxer. According to his lawyer, he can prove his innocence by the fact that he has long been confined to a wheelchair and is therefore unable to have committed the crimes of which he is accused.

The other indicted man is 30 years old, according to Swedish media.