Kosovo Islamic party leader charged with incitement

September 15, 2016 1:02 PM EDT

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PRISTINA (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Kosovo have brought charges against the leader of the country's only Islamic political party, accusing him of inciting viewers to resist state authority during a television broadcast two years ago.

Charges were also filed against four imams in the predominantly secular Muslim state, where authorities are concerned about militant Islamist recruitment after more than 300 people left in recent years to fight in Syria and Iraq.

In a 2014 television broadcast, Fuad Ramiqi, leader of the then recently-founded LISBA party, criticized authorities over the arrest of several imams on incitement charges and said: "We will not remain idle in the face of terror."

He told Reuters: "These accusations against me are unfounded and politically motivated."

Prosecutors said two of the imams faced terrorism-related charges, though they did not publish the indictments. The other two stood accused of inciting national, racial, religious or ethnic hatred. All five were arrested more than a year ago but were released later.

More than 50 of the Kosovars who are known to have left to fight in the Middle East have been killed, and more than 100 people have been arrested or are under investigation for recruiting or participating in the region's bloody wars. Some 70 Kosovars are believed currently to be in the war zones.

Under a new law, Kosovo citizens face up to 15 years' jail for fighting in foreign wars.

(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; editing by Thomas Escritt and Mark Trevelyan)



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