An Albanian court has sentenced in absentia a former Muslim imam accused of terrorism charges including recruiting and sending men to fight with rebel groups in Syria.

During the trial held on Thursday, May 4, the Serious Crime Court ordered 15 years in prison for Almir Daci, who has been imam at Leshnice village, Pogradec District, 140 kilometers east of the capital Tirana.

Daci, who was not present as he is believed to be fighting with rebels in Syria, has recruited some 25 men in eastern Albania.

About two-thirds of Albania’s three million people are Muslims. Despite calls from mainstream religious leaders not to join rebel groups in Syria and Iraq, scores of Albanians are believed to have joined Islamic extremist groups there.

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