Latviski English По-русски
Wednesday 18.07.2018 | Name days: Rozālija, Roze

Latvian sentenced to ten years in prison for fighting on the side of ISIS in Syria

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOn Thursday, 16 November, Latvian citizen Mārtiņš Grīnbergs was sentenced by Riga Regional Court to ten years and three months in prison for fighting on the side of Islamic State terrorist organization.

This means the previous ruling, which found Grīnbergs innocent of participating in crimes against humanity as a member of the criminal organization, is cancelled in favour of finding him guilty of illegal participation in an armed conflict.

After the sentence was read, Grīnbergs announced that he does not consider it fair, adding loudly that the ‘state is the real terrorist’.

Grīnbergs’ attorney, Raitis Mediņš, says the ruling of the regional court will be appealed in the Supreme Court. He did not comment on smaller details, saying that he needs to go through the full text first.

Grīnbergs said in his final words that he no longer believes in Islam, and that he has converted to Christianity instead. He said that he returned to Latvia voluntarily by requesting deportation from Turkey. He also said that he has cooperated with Finland and that he intends to help combat international terrorism.

The accused asked for a softer punishment, saying that if he was released, he would have more freedom to help society by telling his story and reminding what dangers people can expect when joining a terrorist organization. The accused also claimed that he had never picked up a gun and aimed it at anyone.

In the end, Grīnbergs asked the court to act fairly and also expressed regret for what he had done.

First instance court found him innocent of any crimes against humanity. Nevertheless, the court sentenced him to four years in prison for illegal participation in an armed conflict.

The prosecutor in charge of the case asked the court to sentence the accused to 11 years in prison. The ruling was appealed. The prosecutor’s office also submitted a protest, even though the young man denies his guilt in incriminated crimes.

According to Raitis Mediņš, his client did not participate in armed clashes with government forcer or civilians during his stay in Syria.

LTV had previously reported that the young man was born in Brocēni, knows English well and spent a lot of time on the internet in the past. He had registered on one of the largest Muslim forums when he was in 12th grade.

In his interview to LTV, the young man claimed he travelled to Syria because he was absorbed by the idea of an Islamic Caliphate, and that he ‘wanted to find the truth’. The young man said he wanted to join in the creation of the Islamic State as a non-combatant, saying that he wanted to help local residents. He also claimed that even while in Latvia he did not expect the level of cruelty coming from terrorists even though their crimes are widely reported by the media.

He used his own money to travel to Turkey. From there he made his way to the Syrian border and ended up at some Daesh group, which took away his documents and all of his possessions. He was then forced into combat training, from which, he said, there was no way to escape. It was then that he realized that it is not what he wants to do in Syria, so he started looking for ways to return to Latvia. Doing that was very difficult, because he was caught in one of his attempts and put in prison, where he spent five months. According to him, there were thousands of people there besides him. All of them, he said, had realized that Daesh ideology was of radical nature and wanted to get out.

Grīnbergs said terrorists had planned to punish him by sending into battle as ‘cannon fodder’. During transport, however, he and five others managed to escape, even though three of the escapees were shot. The young man eventually found his way to Turkey, where he was arrested by authorities. The young man asked them to send him back to Latvia.

Now the young man says Daesh recruiters told him that everything would be great in the Islamic State, that there would be justice and fairness. As it turned out, reality was exactly the opposite. He says he met no one else from Latvia in Syria.

This is the first court ruling made in Latvia in a case regarding illegal participation in an armed conflict.


Leave a reply

  1. Anonymous says:


House arrest of Russian theatre director Serebrennikov extended

A court in Russia prolonged the house arrest of Kirill Serebrennikov, a leading Russian theatre and cinema director, until August 22 as he waits for a criminal trial charged with of embezzlement of state funds.

NCP picks Jurašs, Strīķe, Bordāns, Feldmanis and Šuplinska as its headliners

Latvia’s New Conservative Party has picked Juris Jurašs, Juta Strīķe, Jānis Bordāns, Krišjānis Feldmanis and Ilga Šuplinska as its headliner candidates for Saeima elections.

Bank: residents spend an average of 50 to 100 euros on health every quarter

84% of residents aged 18 to 74 have used medical services in the past three months. Only 5% of all costs were covered by health insurance, according to a survey by Norvik Banka.

Countries sign third Rail Baltica co-financing agreement

Connecting Europe Facility co-financing agreement for the construction of Rail Baltica railway infrastructure was signed by participating member states on 13 July. The value of the agreement is EUR 130 million. CEF’s contribution will reach EUR 110 million, which is equal to 85% of all applicable costs, as confirmed by RB Rail communication consultant Ligita Brodiņa.

Saeima plans to increase compensations for child victims

Saeima’s Legal Affairs Committee supported for the third reading amendments that provide for increasing state compensations to child victims.

Sweden asks for help to fight wildfires behind Arctic Circle

Sweden has called for help of European Union neighbours to put out wildfires, some raging in territories behind the arctic circle.

Latvijas Krajbanka administrator recovered EUR 1,038 million in June

The administrator of the liquidated Latvijas Krajbanka recovered EUR 1,038 million in June, which is 6.9 times more than a month prior, according to the official outlook published in Latvian Herald.

Estonians warned of heat wave, high UV radiation

Weather forecasters in Estonia have warned the population of hot weather conditions, because temperatures are forecast to reach 30-31 degrees Celsius this week.

Minister says police have leads in Bunkus murder case

Police have found new leads in the murder case of former insolvency administrator Mārtiņš Bunkus, said Interior Affairs Minister Rihards Kozlovskis in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Average EU market prices for dairy products grew in May

Compared to April, dairy product prices in Latvia did not increase in May. In the EU, however, average market prices continued growing in May, according to information compiled by Agriculture Ministry’s Market and Direct Support Department.

ECHR: Russia violated human rights in Pussy Riot and Politkovskaya cases

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has found Russia guilty of human rights violations in its handling of two high-profile cases – its arrest and conviction of Pussy Riot protest group in 2012 and the investigation into journalist Anna Politkovskaya's murder.

Draft making eID card a compulsory document from 2023 onward remains inactive

Latvia’s government has yet to review the legislative draft that makes electronic ID card a compulsory personal identification document for all residents of Latvia older than 15.

Latvia imported 7% less cigarettes in five months of 2018 than it did a year ago

In the first five months of 2018, Latvia imported 1.828 billion cigarettes, which is 7% less than the amount imported in the same period of last year, according to data compiled by the State Revenue Service.

EU's largest free trade agreement signed with Japan

A free trade agreement between the European Union and Japan has been signed and is to apply to close to a third of the world's gross domestic product and the economic activity to 600 million people.

Will Latvians know who elects their president? Draft on open vote «on the move»

On Tuesday, 17 July, Saeima’s Legal Affairs Commission decided to submit for the first reading amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Latvia that provide for holding election of the country’s president in the Saeima through an open vote, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Schengen information system to help prevent tractor theft cases in Latvia

Latvia’s Cabinet of Ministers has supported amendments to the Operation of the Schengen Information System developed by the Interior Affairs Ministry. The aim of those amendments is providing access to the system to ensure public order and security in member states, the ministry explains.

Ministry declares no more free plastic bags for shoppers

From 1 January 2019 onward supermarkets will no longer provide plastic bags to customers free of charge. This will not apply to very light plastic bags, as confirmed by Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry.

EY auditor’s work in ABLV Bank’s liquidation will be managed by its Polish office

The work of EY work in ABLV Bank’s liquidation process will be managed by its Polish office, as confirmed by company’s representatives.

Estonia sees no geopolitical change after U.S.-Russian summit in Helsinki

Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser has commented cautiously that the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki is unlikely to bring fundamental change in the relations between the West, NATO military alliance and Russia.

airBaltic carried record large number of passengers in June

Latvia’s national airBaltic airline carried 1,876,839 passengers to destinations in Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS countries and the Middle East in the first six months of 2018. This is 20% more when compared to the same period of last year, as BNN was told by the company.

Police to investigate possible MPC fraud at Tukums DH CHP plant

One of the largest CHP plants in Kurzeme – SIA Tukums DH – may have been squandering produced heating energy for a long time, which is a serious breach of mandatory procurement component governing rules, TV3 news reports.

Estonian holidaymakers die in Ukraine, media report

Three Estonian holidaymakers in Ukraine, have been found dead in a hotel in the Black Sea resort town of Odessa last weekend, Estonian media report without identifying the three young men.

Languages «a must-have». An interview with ex-president about political market methods and communist approach

There are two ways a political market is realized during closed presidential elections: one involves approval of candidates in exchange for votes, and the other – for money. If it’s the latter, it is best for no one to know how elections are performed. Harmony, which now stays quiet about open elections, has always been against this proposal, because it does not allow for creating a political market – sale of votes in exchange for influence, which has been done before...

Migration from Baltics, Eastern Europe to UK lowest in years

Migration to the UK from the Baltics and other member states of the European Union has been the lowest it has been for nearly four years in 2017, Britain's official statistics show.

Putin in Helsinki denies U.S. election meddling, Trump doesn't object

At the Russia-U.S. summit Helsinki, a key development has been differences in the attitude by U.S. federal officials to Russian interference in the American election process. Days after Washington charged 12 Russians with hacking the computer systems of U.S. officials, U.S. President Donald Trump has accepted the denial of Russian responsibility expressed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.