A Swiss national who returned to the country after spending three months at an Islamic State group training camp in Syria will not be imprisoned, Swiss Attorney General Michael Lauber said in a ruling Wednesday, according to a report by RTS, a Swiss public broadcaster. Instead, Lauber reportedly said, the former jihadist will have to perform 600 hours of community service.
The ruling against the 30-year-old man, whose name has not been disclosed, is the country’s first case where one of its citizens fighting for ISIS has been sentenced. He was reportedly sentenced under an ordinance that came into effect earlier this week. The man, who confessed to having spent two weeks at an undisclosed ISIS training camp after arriving in Syria in December 2013, said that he had become indoctrinated after participating in discussions with jihadists through a French recruitment website, RTS reported.
“I was new to Islam ... the videos I saw and the discussions I had online made me feel like I had to go there,” he reportedly said, adding that he had been imprisoned by militants of the Islamic State group when he demanded to leave after spending two weeks at the training camp.
The light sentence is in direct contrast to the much harsher punishments meted out by other European nations, including the U.K., France and Germany, to its citizens coming back home after fighting for the Islamic State group.
British Prime Minister David Cameron had, in November, proposed a new law that called for British jihadists who travel abroad to be barred from coming back to the U.K. Last month, France sentenced Flavien Moreau, the first French citizen to go on trial for joining militant groups in Syria, to seven years in prison.
Lauber, however, said that the ruling in this particular case was “appropriate” and stressed that future cases of fighters returning from Syria and Iraq could result in much harsher sentences.