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Europe
Germany sentences Iraqi plotters
Three men found guilty of plotting to kill Ayad Allawi, the ex-Iraqi PM, in 2004.
Last Modified: 15 Jul 2008 18:43 GMT
Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid was given a 10-year
sentence by the Stuttgart court [EPA]

Three Iraqi men have been convicted and sentenced to prison for plotting to kill Ayad Allawi, the former Iraqi prime minister, during his visit to Germany in 2004.

The Stuttgart state court on Tuesday convicted the three men of attempted participation in murder and membership in Ansar al-Islam, a group linked to al-Qaeda.

Ata Abdoulaziz Rashid, the alleged mastermind, was given a 10-year sentence while Rafik Mohamad Yousef and Mazen Ali Hussein were sentenced to eight and seven and a half years.

Prosecutors said the three Iraqi citizens of Kurdish origin planned to attack Allawi at a business forum at a bank in downtown Berlin.

The men were arrested in pre-dawn raids on December 3, 2004. They denied the charges during the trial, which began in June 2006.

Ansar al-Islam, which was formed in the Kurdish region of Iraq, is believed to have been behind attacks on US and allied troops in Iraq.

Key contact

According to the indictment, Rashid also conducted monthly collections for the group in 2003-2004 and transferred the money to Iraq.

Judge Christine Rebsam-Bender described Rashid, 34, as "an important, leading member of Ansar al-Islam in Germany'' who had regular contact with the group's leadership in Iraq.

She said the 26-year-old Hussein was slated to succeed Rashid in that role.

The court found that Yousef, 33, had volunteered to carry out the attack on Allawi, and that he got approval by telephone from Rashid and Hussein.

Lawyers for the defendants have argued that, while they talked in hypothetical terms of an attack, they had no access to weapons or explosives and they had no realistic chance of carrying out any such plan.

Source:
Agencies
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