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Iraq: 15 Turkish women face death penalty over Isis membership

Several rights groups have condemned Iraq’s treatment of suspected militants, pointing to inhumane prison conditions and a judicial process which does adhere to international standards

Monday 26 February 2018 16:29 GMT
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Veiled women walk past a billboard that carries a verse from the Qu'ran urging women to wear a hijab in the then Isis-controlled province of Raqqa on 31 March 2014
Veiled women walk past a billboard that carries a verse from the Qu'ran urging women to wear a hijab in the then Isis-controlled province of Raqqa on 31 March 2014 (REUTERS)

At least 15 women of Turkish nationality have been sentenced to death in Iraq for being members of Isis.

The women, aged between 20 - 50, were sentenced in a mass trial at a criminal court in Baghdad on Sunday. Some had young children with them.

One woman said she had taken part in battles against Iraqi coalition forces as they advanced on Isis’ Iraqi stronghold of Mosul last year. All 15 said they had married Isis fighters or provided the militant organisation with “logistical aid or helping them carry out terrorist attacks," the judge’s statement said.

Woman celebrates after being rescued from Isis in Raqqa

The public defender argued that the women had been trafficked into jihadi territory or tricked by their husbands.

The judge found all 15 should be killed by hanging. The women have one month in which to appeal.

Under Iraq's anti-terror laws, anyone found guilty of joining Isis, including non-combatants, can be given the death penalty.

Several rights groups have condemned Iraq’s treatment of suspected militants, pointing to inhumane prison conditions and a judicial process which does adhere to international standards.

Thousands of people, including hundreds of foreigners, are awaiting trial in Iraq on charges of aiding or being members of Isis, including 560 women and 600 minors.

In June 2017, almost three years to the day since Isis crossed over the border from Syria to seize Iraq’s second city Mosul in a surprise attack, US-backed Iraqi coalition forces declared the Iraqi half of Isis’ so-called caliphate destroyed.

The jihadists have however continued to carry out suicide bombings, ambushes and other attacks across the country.

Last week another Turkish national Isis widow was sentenced to death by hanging and 11 others were jailed for life for their part in “acts of terrorism” in the country.

Several Western governments, including the UK, have expressed a wish for nationals who travelled to the Middle East to fight on behalf of the group be tried in Iraq.

Alexanda Kotey and El Shafee Elsheikh, part of the infamous British Isis cell known as “The Beatles” responsible for the torture and murder of at least 29 hostages, were captured alive earlier this month.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd said last week the “door is open” for them to be returned for trial in the UK.

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