Kosovo police question several women who returned from Syria

A Kosovar woman and a child returned from Syria leave the foreign detention center as they reunite with their family members in the village of Vranidoll. (AFP)
Updated 22 April 2019
0

Kosovo police question several women who returned from Syria

  • Kosovo brought back 110 of its citizens from Syria, including 32 women, 74 children and four militants who had gone to fight in the country’s civil war
  • After the collapse of Daesh’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return

PRISTINA: Kosovo police and prosecutors have interrogated several of the women who returned from Syria by plane on Saturday, lawyers who took part in the questioning said on Monday.
Kosovo brought back 110 of its citizens from Syria, including 32 women, 74 children and four militants who had gone to fight in the country’s civil war.
The four fighters were immediately arrested and detained for 30 days awaiting questioning, while women and children were sent to the Foreign Detention Center in the outskirts of Pristina.
“I represented a woman who came back from Syria. She is accused for being part of the terrorist groups and she was in very bad health condition,” lawyer Fehmie Gashi-Bytyqi told Reuters.
A number of visitors were seen in front of the Foreign Detention Center on Monday morning, hoping to see relatives. Children, some small girls wearing hijabs, were outside in the sunny weather playing soccer with police officers.
Doctors were constantly entering and leaving the buildings to carry out medical checks on the returnees.
Merita Bajraktari, who was among the many female lawyers present, said: “My client is accused of being part of terrorist groups and she is also the wife of another person who was returned to Kosovo on Saturday where he was arrested.”
After the collapse of Daesh’s self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq, countries around the world are wrestling with how to handle militants and their families seeking to return.
The population of Kosovo is nominally 90 percent Muslim, but largely secular in outlook. More than 300 of its citizens had traveled to Syria since 2012 and 70 men who fought alongside militant groups were killed.
Police said 30 Kosovan fighters, 49 women and eight children remain in the conflict zones. The government said it plans to bring back those who are still there.
International and local security agencies have previously warned of the risk posed by returning fighters. In 2015, Kosovo adopted a law making fighting in foreign conflicts punishable by up to 15 years in jail.


Turkish banker released from US prison

Updated 1 min 2 sec ago
0

Turkish banker released from US prison

NEW YORK: A Turkish banker convicted for plotting to help Iran evade American sanctions on Iranian oil proceeds has been released from US prison, according to his lawyer and prison officials.
Mehmet Hakan Atilla, 47, deputy director general of Turkish lender Halkbank, was arrested in March 2017 and convicted the following year on five counts of bank fraud and conspiracy following a five-week trial in New York.
He was handed over to immigration police on Friday pending his deportation to Turkey, his lawyer Victor Rocco told AFP. Prison authorities confirmed his release.
Atilla claimed that he had only played a minor role in the scheme and acted as executor of instructions by the bank’s director general — an argument accepted by the court.
Prosecutors had wanted a 20-year sentence for the banker.
His conviction hinged on the testimony of Turkish-Iranian gold trader Reza Zarrab, who was arrested by US authorities in 2016 after jetting to Florida with his pop-star wife and child on a family holiday to Disney World.
Zarrab, 34, initially pleaded not guilty then flipped, becoming a US government witness after admitting being involved in the multi-billion-dollar gold-for-oil scheme to subvert US economic sanctions against Iran.
His testimony identified Atilla as a key organizer in the scheme, but also implicated former Turkish ministers and even President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Testifying in court last November, Zarrab said he was told that Erdogan, as prime minister in 2012, and treasury minister Ali Babacan gave “instructions” to two public banks to take part in the scheme.
Erdogan has repeatedly rejected the allegations, saying Turkey did not violate the US embargo on Iran and that political rivals were behind the case.
Zarrab’s sentence is not known, as many of the documents in his case have remained confidential.