A court in Stuttgart has convicted three Iraqi men of plotting to kill former Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi while he was on a visit to Germany in 2004.
Defendant Mazen H. hides his face as his sentence is announced
Two years after the start of their trial, the regional high court convicted Ata R., Rafik Y. and Mazen H. of attempted conspiracy to commit murder, and membership in the terrorist organization Ansar-al-Islam, an Iraqi militant group linked to al Qaeda.
The men received prison sentences ranging from seven and a half to 10 years.
Prosecutors said the men had conspired to assassinate Allawi in a plan hatched just days before his short trip to Berlin in December 2004. His visit to gain a pledge of aid for Iraq after the ousting of Saddam Hussein went off without incident, though not long after, he lost power.
A few weeks before the trip, Ansar-al-Islam had called for Allawi to be killed on a Web site.
Authorities succeeded in foiling the attack, arresting the three men in pre-dawn raids on Dec. 3, 2004. However, they said too little was known about the defendants' plans to charge them with attempted murder.
Leader received longest sentence
Defendant Ata R. received the highest sentence
The chief judge said the trial had shown that R., who received the 10-year sentence, had been an "important and leading member" of Ansar-al-Islam, news agency DPA reported. The trial was told he was known as the "emir of Germany" among the group, emir being an Arabic title for a leader.
"He was in regular, close contact with the most senior cadres of the organization," the judge said.
H. had been a "close associate" of R., and had been intended as R.'s successor if R. had been captured and H. had remained free.