Hungary jails Syrian Daesh commander over imam beheading

A Syrian man accused of mass executions, terrorist acts and crimes against humanity is escorted by Hungarian police special unit officers as he arrives in the courtroom before a session of his trial at a court in Budapest, Hungary on Dec. 3, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 03 December 2020

Hungary jails Syrian Daesh commander over imam beheading

  • The man was a commander of Daesh, and must spend at least 30 years behind bars, according to a court statement
  • He was personally involved in the execution of several people, including the beheading of a tribal leader

BUDAPEST: A Hungarian court sentenced a Syrian man to life imprisonment Thursday for terrorism and crimes against humanity including the beheading of an imam in Syria in 2015.
The man was a commander of Daesh, and must spend at least 30 years behind bars, according to a statement from the Metropolitan Court of Budapest sent to AFP.
“His task was to make a ‘death list’ of ‘enemies of Islam’,” the court statement said.
“He was personally involved in the execution of several people, including the beheading of a tribal leader.”
The man has been identified in local media as 28-year-old F. Hassan.
His lawyers said they would appeal the verdict, as did prosecutors, who had sought a life term without parole.
According to prosecutors, the defendant commanded a small Daesh unit in Homs province in 2015 tasked with terrorizing and executing civilians and religious leaders who refused to side with the group.
Prosecutors said he personally took part in the beheading of an imam in the town of Al-Sukhnah, and in the murder of another civilian in the area in May 2015.
His unit also killed at least 25 people in the town including women and children, prosecutors say.
Authorities in Malta, Greece and Belgium as well as in Hungary took part in the investigation, which was coordinated by the European judicial cooperation agency Eurojust.
Some 10 witnesses in Belgium and Malta, as well as in Hungary, gave testimony.
The man, who had been given refugee status in Greece, was held at Budapest airport in December 2018, after he presented forged travel documents for himself and a female travel partner.
His defense lawyer had argued that prosecutors’ evidence — including wire-tapped telephone calls, video footage of the murders and the man’s own statements — failed to support the accusations.


UK scientists to update COVID-19 vaccine to resist new variants

Updated 21 January 2021

UK scientists to update COVID-19 vaccine to resist new variants

LONDON: The team behind the UK’s main COVID-19 vaccine, developed at Oxford University, is preparing to update the inoculation to be resistant to new strains of the virus.

British newspaper The Independent reported that the team is mobilizing this new effort in response to the variants seen in the UK, South Africa and elsewhere.

The efficacy of the current vaccine against the most common strains of COVID-19 is being assessed by scientists from the university, with preliminary results expected toward mid-February. 

Prof. Sarah Gilbert, the team’s lead, said the researchers would not wait to discover the test’s results before acting, and instead are already synthesizing the new variants into the jab that is currently being rolled out nationwide.

Scientists at Oxford University are understood to be confident that their vaccine will not need to be adapted in response to the British variant, which was discovered last month after an especially rapid outbreak in Kent. 

Data published by Pfizer and BioNTech, the producers of the other vaccine being provided in Britain, has indicated that their inoculation is resistant to the new COVID-19 strain.

More analysis is being conducted to assess whether it will be able to neutralize the newer South African and Brazilian variants.

A spokesperson from Oxford University said any necessary modifications would take “one day’s worth of work” before being grown in cell culture within a laboratory.

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