Latvian Daesh volunteer gets sentence increased to 10 years

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A young Latvian man was sentenced November 16 to 10 years behind bars for his attempts to join the Islamic State or Daesh terror organization, reported LSM's Latvian language portal.

Appearing in court in Riga, Mārtiņš Grīnbergs had his previous conviction on charges of involvement in crimes committed by a terrorist organization upheld, with the result that his sentence was increased from 4 years to 10, with an additional 3-year probationary period.

This comes after a first-instance court acquitted him of participation in a criminal organization’s crimes against humanity or war crimes but issued a four year sentence for illegal participation in an armed conflict.

Grīnbergs also declared that he had renounced Islam and converted to Christianity. He further said he had voluntarily returned to Latvia and cooperated with Finland in helping to combat international terrorism.

However, he left court with a defiant message, saying: "This country is utterly unjust. It's totally corrupt," he told the cameras and then called Latvia a "terrorist country".

Results of a polygraph test cited during procedings suggested he had not fired on people directly while under the ISIS banner in Syria, but results pertaining to whether he had helped the murderous organization in other ways were less convincing.

His lawyer Raitis Mediņš said they would appeal the sentence at the Supreme Court.

Last summer, the Security Police (DP) received information that a Latvian citizen had been detained by the Turkish authorities, who in September took the decision to deport him to Latvia where he was arrested.

Latvian Television reported that the young man was from Broceni, had a good command of the English language, spent a lot of time on the Internet and, while still studying in 12th grade, became active on Islamist forums and converted to Islam.

The young man, in an interview with Latvian Television, claimed that he had gone to Syria because his idea of ​​Islamic Caliphate was taken away and he "sought the truth" .

Grīnbergs traveled to Turkey, from which he crossed into Syria and joined a Daesh-linked group, where he was deprived of documents and all his belongings. Then he began to train for warfare, which was not possible to avoid. 

At that time, the young man realized that this was not exactly what he wanted to do, therefore he began to look for opportunities to get back to Latvia. According to his testimony, his superiors suspected his loyalty and placed in prison where he spent five months. According to a young man, there are thousands of people in the prison who have understood the extreme nature of Islamist ideology ideology belatedly and want to escape.

Eventually he managed to escape and cross the Turkish border where he was arrested by the authorities.


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