German prosecutors failed to get a tougher sentence for a woman who married a jihadist and took her young daughters to Syria, the Federal Court of Justice said on Tuesday in a landmark ruling that could affect future trials of suspected Islamists.
A court in Munich last year handed the now 30-year old woman an 18-month suspended sentence for taking her two daughters away to Syria without the knowledge of their father.
Prosecutors argued she deserved a higher sentence, possibly of up to 10 years behind bars, for supporting an Islamist group and preparing a serious act of violence.
Intelligence agencies say some 740 Islamists from Germany, of whom a fifth are women, have travelled to Syria and Iraq. About one third are now back in Germany while 120 have died.
Prosecutors are investigating dozens of cases of suspected Islamists preparing violent attacks in Syria.
The woman, who was not named but is from the southern German Allgaeu region, converted to Islam in 2012 and at the start of last year took her daughters, then aged three and seven, to Syria. There, she became the second wife of a member of the Islamist Al-Nusra Front, linked to al Qaeda, said the court in Karlsruhe.
She learned how to use weapons and was ready to use an assault rifle and hand grenades if attacked by the Syrian army, said the court.
However, the court said there was insufficient evidence that she had been involved in planning attacks there or that she wanted to get involved in military campaigns.
“It was important that the accused only sympathised with the Al-Nusra Front - which is in itself unpunishable according to German law - but did not actively get involved in their combat operations,” said the court in its ruling.
The court said she had moved house several times to avoid getting involved in fighting and returned to Germany in May 2014 when the situation became more dangerous.