Salafist preacher Sven Lau to be released from German jail | News | DW | 16.05.2019

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Salafist preacher Sven Lau to be released from German jail

German Islamist Sven Lau will leave prison early after serving two-thirds of his sentence for supporting a terrorist organization. Lau had recruited fighters for the Jamwa militia in Syria.

Sven Lau with his lawyer Mutlu Günal in 201

Sven Lau (L) with his lawyer Mutlu Günal in 2016

A German court on Thursday ordered the early release from jail of one of Germany's most renowned Salafists. Sven Lau had been serving a sentence of 5 1/2 years for aiding terrorism.

Lau was convicted in July 2017 of supporting Jamwa, an Islamist militia taking part in the Syrian war. He was found guilty of sending money and equipment to the group and also persuading two Salafists living in Germany to join the group.

German authorities first detained Lau in 2015. The time he had spent in custody counted towards the sentence served.

Lau was born to a Catholic family in the northwestern city of Mönchengladbach. After leaving school, he became an apprentice industrial mechanic and, in 1999, was apparently converted to Islam by a Turkish colleague. He worked as a fireman until 2008. Later, he became an active Salafist preacher.

He gained international notoriety in 2014, when he founded an organization calling itself the "Sharia Police." Members of the group patrolled streets in the western city of Wuppertal, in a bid to enforce sharia law, with regard to consumption of alcohol, gambling and listening to music, among followers of Islam.

Read more: 'Sharia Police' Salafist Sven Lau goes on trial

No more 'criminal offenses'

On Thursday, the court said its decision to release Lau from jail early was based on the assumption that he has changed his ways.

"After spending years in prison, Sven L. will not be committing any more criminal offenses," the court said. "He has clearly distanced himself from his original extreme Islamist attitude."

The remainder of his sentence was suspended under strict terms, controlling where Lau is allowed to stay and who he is allowed to contact. The 38-year-old was also ordered to remain in close contact with his probation officer. He is likely to leave prison in the coming days.

dj/rt (dpa, EPD, AFP)

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