ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) - A Swiss former army officer who faced three years in prison for fighting against the Islamic state in Syria as part of a Christian armed group was sentenced on Friday with only a fine.
Johan Cosar was found guilty of undermining Switzerland’s defensive capabilities by joining a foreign army, Swiss Info reported, but was acquitted of the charge that he recruited minors for a military force.
The court handed him a suspended sentence and a fine equaling about $500 with the option of choosing to serve time in jail as an alternative to paying the fee.
His cousin, also on trial for similar allegations, was acquitted of all charges.
Cosar is a leader in the Syriac Military Council, founded in 2013 to protect Christian populations in Syria and is part of the US-led coalition backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).
Bassam Ishak, President of the Syriac National Council of Syria, an umbrella group for Syriac civil society organizations worldwide, told Kurdistan 24 on Thursday that Cosar “was not only defending Syriacs in Syria but also the national security of countries like Switzerland.”
On Friday, he welcomed the decision to impose only the financial penalty, saying, “I am sure the fine will be paid.”
The Syriac Military Council responded with joy, tweeting, “We are happy and proud to announce [the] acquittal of our hero Johan by the Swiss court.”
“This is significantly important for him and for the struggle against ISIS as we always declared that this is a fight for all humanity. Thank you for your support.”
David Vergili, a representative from the European Syriac Union, also hailed the ruling by saying, “As [European nations] discuss and try to find adequate measures against [the] ISIS foreign fighters issue, the decision of [the] Swiss court is important for Johan Cosar and the SDF which fought against ISIS during [the] last years.”
“As SDF leaders repeated that the fight against ISIS was for all humanity, I believe that [the] Swiss decision goes in this direction and [is an] acceptance of this struggle,” he continued.
“[The] Swiss court admitted that acts of Johan Cosar were honorable. I believe this message is clear and significant to highlight.”
According to the Swiss Military Penal Code, citizens are not allowed to join foreign armies and can receive a prison sentence of up to three years if found guilty of doing so.
Cosar told Swiss public television that he would appeal the verdict.
Editing by John J. Catherine