World Bulletin/News Desk
One of Britain’s top prosecutors today warned that Britons who travel to join the Syrian conflict will face prosecution and potential life sentences on their return, U.K. media reports.
According to the London Evening Standad, Sue Hemming said it was a crime to fight in another country even if it was to topple a “loathsome” dictator such as president Bashar Assad.
The head of counter-terrorism at the Crown Prosecution Service said Britons could also face charges for attending rebel training camps.
She quoted as saying that further prosecutions would be brought against those yet to depart if police found evidence that they were planning to fight.
Her comments, in an interview with the Evening Standard, come as seven British residents including two London women await trial over charges connected to the Syrian conflict.
They follow a recent surge in arrests by police and a warning by the Met’s counter-terrorism chief about the growing number of young Britons either travelling to Syria or attempting to go.
Some observers have expressed surprise that “freedom fighters” seeking to oust Assad are being arrested. But Ms Hemming said the law made it clear that participation in an overseas conflict was illegal.
According to the report, the most serious offence facing those going to Syria is Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006. It outlaws acts preparatory to terrorism and assisting another person in such activities. The maximum penalty is life. Sections 6 and 8 of the legislation also make it illegal to train as a terrorist or to attend a training camp. Both offences carry up to 10 years in prison.
Hemming emphasised that it was not a crime to take part in humanitarian relief. But she warned that the flow of Britons to Syria had “all the hallmarks” of creating a danger in this country which prosecutors had a duty to tackle.
Scotland Yard revealed last month that Syria-related terrorism arrests are soaring with 16 so far this year, compared with 24 for all of 2013. The total number of British participants in the conflict is estimated to be in the “hundreds”, with as many as 20 thought to have died in the fighting.
Since March 2011, more than 130,000 people across Syria have been killed and nearly six million forced from their homes sparking humanitarian crises in neighbouring countries.Last Mod: 28 Şubat 2014, 11:18