Austrian court sentences 10 for trying to join Islamists in Syria

VIENNA (REUTERS) - An Austrian court sentenced 10 people to up to three years in jail on Tuesday for trying to link up with radical Islamists in Syria.

A Turkish man accused of organising transport for the group of native Chechens got a three-year jail term, while others got prison terms of up to 34 months. One who was a juvenile at the time of the arrests last August got a one-year suspended sentence, a court spokeswoman said.

The sentences are not final until the defendants - some of whom said they were simply going on a holiday or wanted to live in an Islamic country, according to media reports - decide whether to appeal.

Prosecutors had demanded sentences of one to 10 years in jail for participating in a terrorist organisation, broadcaster ORF reported.

With the far-right Freedom Party attracting more than 25 per cent support and beating the ruling centrist parties in opinion polls, Austria has taken a tough line on suspected jihadist sympathisers.

A 14-year-old boy who downloaded bomb-making plans onto his Playstation games console got a two-year jail term last month after pleading guilty to terrorism charges.

More than 200 people have left Austria to fight in the Middle East, some 30 of whom have been killed while around 70 have returned, according to the interior ministry.