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Berlin passes new anti-terrorism laws

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Berlin passes new anti-terrorism laws
Video of 20 year-old German Abdulgaffar El Alm calling for jihad. Photo: DPA
14:56 CEST+02:00
The German Bundestag, or lower house of parliament, passed legislation on Thursday making terrorist activity – even with no clear intent to carry out an attack – punishable by up to ten years in prison.

The new law gives officials more authority to prosecute crimes that are thought to endanger Germany.

Any involvement with suspected terrorist groups, including contacting them, preparing for a terror attack by collecting money, financing terrorist activities, gathering bomb materials, spending time in a terrorist training camp or publishing bomb-building instructions will now be illegal.

Parliament also reinstated a law that expired in 1999 that allows authorities to reduce criminal sentences for state witnesses who cooperate with law enforcement.

“The state must not only concern itself with appropriate punishment for criminals, but also has the constitutional duty to prevent and clarify serious crimes,” Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries said, adding, however, that there will be no excessive reductions in punishments.

But opposition parties criticised the state witness law reinstatement, calling it an “unworthy negotiation with justice.”

Environmentalist Green party law expert Jerzy Montag said the possibility of reduced sentences was nothing more than “blood money for betrayal,” adding that the terror camp law was merely an “expression of a security phobia.”

Zypries defended the new rules, saying they provided more transparency.

Reduced sentences for witnesses are not “privileges for white collar criminals.”

“Everyone still remains equal before the law,” she said.

A major terrorism trial is currently underway in in Düsseldorf. The so-called Sauerland Cell is accused of planning terror attacks inspired by September 11, 2007. The four-member group allegedly planned to bomb US facilities in Germany and nightclubs popular with Americans.

Authorities believe the men planned bombings between early September 2007 and mid-October 2007, when the German parliament was to vote to extend participation in the NATO peacekeeping force in Afghanistan. They were arrested in September 2007.

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