A Syrian man on trial in Hungary denied charges Wednesday that he took part in a beheading and other killings in his homeland while a member of the Islamic State group.
Prosecutors have charged the 27-year-old identified only as Hassan F. with participating in the beheading of a religious leader in the city of al-Sukhnah in Homs province and involvement in the killings of at least 25 people. They say at least six women and one child were among the dead in slayings intended as revenge and to terrify the local population.
He allegedly participated in the murder of dozens of people near the city of Homs in 2015 prosecutor Andras Urbanyi told the court.
“In May 2015 Hassan’s unit was ordered to capture an area rich in artefacts near Homs,” Mr Urbanyi said. “Hassan was to draw up a death list, naming those to be executed out of revenge or to intimidate locals. The list was approved by Isis leaders.” His brigade went door to door, pulling and murdering individuals on the list either with gunshots or knifing, Mr Urbanyi said. Others were forced to gather at the town’s main square.
“At the square they were forced to witness an execution. The local imam was beheaded. Hassan and an accomplice severed the imam’s head with long, seesawing motions, then held up his head to the crowd.”
"I committed nothing," said Hassan F. said at the start of the trial.
During the court session, gruesome video was shown of the beheading allegedly committed by Hassan F. and another man. Hassan F. denied being in the video or knowing anyone else in the video. Hassan F. also denied prosecutors' claim that he was a member of a small, armed IS unit.
During his initial testimony, Hassan F. asked not to be executed, but the judge explained to him that there is no death penalty in the European Union. Hassan F. also claimed repeatedly while being questioned by the judge that he was mistreated by police and in jail and that he feared being poisoned. His lawyer said Hassan F. had attempted suicide in prison.
The defense lawyer asked the court to reject many pre-trial statements implicating his client, in part because they were by people who did not personally witness the alleged crimes, or because they had failed to provide any details of the events.
Hassan had obtained refugee status in Greece, before being apprehended in December at Budapest's Ferenc Liszt International Airport when he and a female companion were found to have forged personal IDs.
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