Ten people have gone on trial in Paris for alleged links to the financing of a jihadist movement that the U.N. Security Council considers an affiliate of al-Qaida.
The trial that began Monday comes four years after the suspects, mostly Turkish-speaking, were rounded up in a police sweep in France, Germany and the Netherlands. The defendants are suspected of collecting funds for the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, which the U.N. listed as an al-Qaida affiliate just weeks after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.
The trial, the first-ever concerning the IMU in a Paris court according to the presiding judge, was expected to detail funding in the global jihadist movement.
Speaking to The Associated Press, lawyers for two of the defendants denied the charges against their clients, insisting the money collected was for 'humanitarian' uses such as for buying sheep for slaughter for the Muslim festival of Eid.
The defendants are also accused of ties to an Islamic militant sentenced for plotting to crash a plane into the mausoleum of the founder of modern Turkey.