Former Isis member jailed for Yazidi girl’s death in landmark German trial

Iraqi citizen was sentenced to life for committing genocide and a war crime over death of 5-year-old girl

Associated Press
Tuesday 30 November 2021 12:37
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<p>Iraqi Taha Al-J takes his seat in the dock before the verdict is handed down in Frankfurt, Germany</p>

Iraqi Taha Al-J takes his seat in the dock before the verdict is handed down in Frankfurt, Germany

A former member of the Islamic State group has been convicted by a German court of genocide and committing a war crime over the death of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl he had purchased as a slave and then chained up in the hot sun to die.

The Frankfurt regional court sentenced Taha Al-J., an Iraqi citizen whose full last name was withheld because of privacy rules, to life imprisonment and ordered him to pay the girl’s mother 50,000 euros (£42,540).

The presiding judge, Christoph Koller, said was the first conviction worldwide over a person’s role in the systematic persecution by Isis of the Yazidi religious minority.

The defendant’s lawyers had denied the allegations made against their client. Al-J. was arrested in Greece and extradited to Germany two years ago.

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

The United Nations has called the IS assault on the Yazidis’ ancestral homeland in northern Iraq in 2014 a genocide, saying the Yazidis’ 400,000-strong community "had all been displaced, captured or killed."

Of the thousands captured by IS, boys were forced to fight for the extremists, men were executed if they didn’t convert to Islam — and often executed in any case — and women and girls were sold into slavery.

According to German prosecutors, Al-J. bought a Yazidi woman and her 5-year-old daughter as slaves at an IS base in Syria in 2015. The two had been taken as prisoners by the militants in northern Iraq at the beginning of August 2014 and had been "sold and resold several times as slaves" by the group already.

The defendant took the woman and her daughter to his household in the Iraqi city of Fallujah and forced them to "keep house and to live according to strict Islamic rules," while giving them insufficient food and beating them regularly to punish them, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors allege that toward the end of 2015, Al-J. chained the girl to the bars of a window in the open sun on a day where it reached 50 degrees Celsius and she died from the punishment. The punishment was allegedly carried out because the 5-year-old had wet the bed.

The girl’s mother, who survived captivity, testified at both trials.

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