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Trial of Australian Muslim Convert Charged with Terrorism Offences Put on Hold

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — The trial of an Australian man charged with terrorism offenses in Bulgaria has been put on hold for three weeks after the court decided to hear testimony from additional witnesses.

John “Ivan” Zahariev, a dual Australian-Bulgarian citizen, has been in custody since September, when he was arrested for allegedly planning to go to Syria to join jihadi groups.

Zahariev has denied the charges and pleaded innocent.

The 21-year old was raised as a Christian in Australia, but converted to Islam. He told Bulgarian national TV that he traveled to Syria in 2012 to see “what I could do to help the Syrian people.”

Prosecutors allege Zahariev intended to take part in terror attacks.

His lawyer, Hristo Botev, says Zahariev converted back to Christianity last year, which means “he has signed his death penalty before the extreme Muslims.”

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