The court case against Islamic preacher Mirsad O., and co-defendant Mucharbek T., was heard in private this morning to protect witnesses giving testimony from being identified.
The defence team are hoping to call 40 witnesses in total, including one Christian priest whom the second defendant claims he lived with in Syria. They have also put in an evidence request for a transcript of secret service communications.
The trial is expected to run on for some time, with the court also waiting for a CD of preachings carried out by Mirsad O. to be translated from Bosnian into German.
Mirsad O., who is also known by the Islamic name of 'Ebu Tejma' and is thought to be a major player in the radicalisation of Islam in Austria, had been arrested in November 2014 in a raid on his house in Vienna where he lived with his pregnant wife and five children.
The arrest was part of a series of raids that resulted in 13 suspected jihadists being taken to court in Graz on terrorism charges. The current court case is the fourth trial related to these arrests.
Prosecutors says preacher Mirsad O. can be linked with the recruitment of more than 160 others who eventually joined Isis and that a file had been found on his computer that was a guide to making an explosive device that could be detonated by mobile phone. The defendant denies explicitly encouraging anyone to go and fight for ISIS in Syria.
It is the first time a Muslim has been charged with murder through terrorism in Austria. He is also accused of inciting a co-accused in the murder of “infidels” which could result in up to 20 years in prison.
His co-accused is 28-year-old Russian Mucharbek T. who was targeted by police, not because of his preaching, but rather because of his violence as Mirsad O.'s right-hand man.
He is accused of carrying out numerous murders of civilians in Syria as well as the shooting of sex slaves and forcing others out of their homes.