A former member of the Islamic State group has been found guilty of genocide after the death of a five-year-old Yazidi girl whom he had bought as a slave and then chained in the hot sun to die.
- The full name of the Iraqi citizen was not released due to privacy rules
- He was also convicted of crimes against humanity, war crimes and bodily harm resulting in death.
- The German authorities took up the case under the principle of universal jurisdiction
The German court also sentenced Taha Al-J, an Iraqi citizen whose full last name was not released due to privacy rules, for crimes against humanity, war crimes and bodily harm resulting in death.
The 29-year-old was sentenced to life in prison and sentenced to pay the girl’s mother 50,000 euros ($ 70,000).
The girl and her mother were bought as slaves in Syria before being taken to the man’s home in Fallujah, where the girl died.
The German authorities took up the case under the principle of universal jurisdiction, which allows the country to try particularly serious crimes, even if they have been committed elsewhere and there is no direct connection to Germany.
A German news agency quoted Judge Christoph Koller as saying it was the first conviction for genocide in the world over a person’s role in IS’s systematic persecution of the Yazidi religious minority.
The court said the judges concluded that Al-J acted with the intent to exterminate Yazidis and thereby constituted genocide.
Attorneys for the defendant denied the allegations against their client, who briefly fainted when the verdict was read out Tuesday.
His German wife was last month sentenced to 10 years in prison for the girl’s death.
The girl’s mother, who survived captivity, testified at both trials as plaintiffs.
“This is the moment the Yazidis have been waiting for,” said lawyer Amal Clooney, who acted as adviser to the mother.
Zemfira Dlovani, a lawyer and member of Germany’s central council for Yazidis, also welcomed the verdict.
“We can only hope it will serve as a milestone for further cases,” she said.
She noted that thousands of Yazidi women were enslaved and abused by the Islamic State group.
The UN has called the IS group’s attack on the Yazidi ancestral homeland in northern Iraq in 2014 a genocide, saying the Yazidi 400,000-strong community “had all been displaced, captured or killed”.
Arrested in Greece, prosecuted in Germany
Of the thousands captured by IS, boys were forced to fight for the extremists, men were executed if they did not 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 five-year-old daughter Reda as slaves at an IS group base in Syria in 2015.
The two had been taken prisoner by militants from the northern Iraqi city of Kocho in early August 2014 and had already been “sold and resold several times as slaves” by the group.
The accused took the woman and her daughter to her household in the Iraqi city of Fallujah and forced them to “keep house and live by strict Islamic rules” while giving them insufficient food and beating them regularly to punish them, according to the indictment. .
Prosecutors allege that towards the end of 2015, Al-J chained the girl to the bars of a window in the open sun on a day when it reached 50 degrees Celsius and she died from punishment.
The sentence was allegedly carried out because the five-year-old had wet the bed.
Al-J was arrested in Greece two years ago and extradited to Germany.
The recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Nadia Murad, who is herself a survivor of atrocities committed by IS, said the verdict was “a victory for survivors of genocide, survivors of sexual violence and the entire Yazidi community”.
“Germany is not only raising awareness of the need for justice, but acting on it,” she said in a statement.
“Their use of universal jurisdiction in this matter can and should be copied by governments around the world.”
The verdict can be appealed.