Former ISIS member guilty of genocide for shackling Yazidi girl to die in the sun

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In a landmark verdict, a former member of the Islamic State group was found guilty of genocide by a German court for the death of a five-year-old Yazidi girl he had bought as a slave and then chained under the scorching sun to death.

The Frankfurt Regional Court also convicted Taha Al-J of crimes against humanity, war crimes and bodily harm resulting in death. The 29-year-old was sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to pay the girl’s mother € 50,000 (£ 42,600).

German news agency dpa quoted Presiding Judge Christoph Koller as the first genocide conviction in the world for one person’s role in IS’s systematic persecution of the minority Yazidi nun.

The court said the judges concluded that Al-J – whose last name was withheld due to privacy laws – acted with the intention of eradicating Yazidis, thus constituting genocide.

Lawyers for the accused had denied the allegations against their client, who briefly passed out when the verdict was read on Tuesday.

His German wife was sentenced last month to 10 years in prison for the girl’s death.

The girl’s mother, who survived captivity, testified in both trials and participated as a co-plaintiff.

“This is the moment the Yazidis have been waiting for,” said lawyer Amal Clooney, who acted as counsel to the mother. “To finally hear a judge, after seven years, declare that what they suffered was genocide. Watch a man face justice for killing a Yazidi girl – because she was Yazidi.

Zemfira Dlovani, lawyer and member of the German Central Council of Yazidis, also welcomed the verdict.

“We can only hope that this will serve as a milestone for other cases to follow,” she told The Associated Press, noting that thousands of Yazidi women have been enslaved and abused by the EI. “It should be the beginning, not the end. “

The United Nations called ISIS’s assault on the ancestral homeland of the Yazidis in northern Iraq in 2014 as genocide, saying the 400,000-strong Yazidi community “had all been displaced, captured or killed ”. Of the thousands of prisoners captured by ISIS, boys have been forced to fight for extremists, men have been executed if they don’t convert to Islam – and often executed anyway – and women and girls were sold as slaves.

According to German prosecutors, Al-J bought a Yazidi woman and her five-year-old daughter, Reda, as slaves at an ISIS base in Syria in 2015. Both were taken prisoner by militants in the northern Iraqi town. de Kocho in early August 2014 and had already been “sold and resold several times as a slave” by the group.

The accused took the woman and her daughter to his home in the Iraqi city of Fallujah and forced them to “keep their house and live by strict Islamic rules”, while giving them insufficient food and regularly beating them for the sake of it. punish them, according to the charge.

Prosecutors allege that in late 2015, Al-J chained the girl to bars from a window in direct sunlight on a day when it hit 50 ° C (122 degrees Fahrenheit) and that she died of the blast. punishment. The punishment was reportedly carried out because the child had wet the bed.

Al-J was arrested in Greece two years ago and extradited to Germany.

The German authorities seized the case under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the country to try particularly serious crimes even if they were committed elsewhere and there is no direct link to Germany. .

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad, who herself is a survivor of ISIS atrocities, said the verdict was “a victory for genocide survivors, survivors of sexual violence and all. of the Yazidi community ”.

“Germany not only raises awareness of the need for justice, but acts accordingly,” she said in a statement. “Their use of universal jurisdiction in this case can and should be replicated by governments around the world. “


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