German court convicts ex-IS member in Yazidi girl’s death

Nov 29, 2021, 11:00 AM | Updated: Nov 30, 2021, 2:07 pm
The Iraqi Taha Al-J. is led into the courtroom at Frankfurt's Higher Regional Court before the verd...

The Iraqi Taha Al-J. is led into the courtroom at Frankfurt's Higher Regional Court before the verdict is pronounced Frankfurt, Germany, Nov. 30, 2021. The Federal Prosecution accuses him of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, human trafficking and murder. As a suspected member of the terrorist militia IS, he is alleged to have held a Yazidi woman and her daughter as slaves and abused them. In the process, he allegedly tied up the five-year-old in Fallujah, Iraq, where the child died of thirst in agony, according to the indictment. (Frank Rumpenhorst/Pool via AP)

(Frank Rumpenhorst/Pool via AP)

BERLIN (AP) — In a landmark trial, a former member of the Islamic State group was found guilty of genocide by a German court Tuesday 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 also convicted sentenced Taha Al-J., an Iraqi citizen whose full last name wasn’t released because of privacy rules, 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 euros ($57,000).

German news agency dpa quoted the presiding judge, Christoph Koller, saying it was the first genocide conviction worldwide over a person’s role in the systematic persecution by IS of the Yazidi religious minority.

The court said judges concluded that Al-J. acted with the intention of eradicating Yazidis, thereby constituting genocide.

Lawyers for the defendant had denied the allegations made against their client, who briefly fainted as the verdict was read out Tuesday.

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

The girl’s mother, who survived captivity, testified at both trials and took part as a co-plaintiff.

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

Zemfira Dlovani, a lawyer and member of Germany’s Central Council of Yazidis, also welcomed the verdict.

“We can only hope that it will serve as a milestone for further cases to follow,” she told The Associated Press, noting that thousands of Yazidi women were enslaved and mistreated by the Islamic State group. “This should be the beginning, not the end.”

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 Reda as slaves at an IS base in Syria in 2015. The two had been taken as prisoners by the militants from the northern Iraqi town of Kocho 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 (122 Fahrenheit) and she died from the punishment. The punishment was allegedly carried out because the 5-year-old had wet the bed.

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

German authorities took on 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 is herself a survivor of atrocities committed by IS, said the verdict was “a win for survivors of genocide, survivors of sexual violence, and the entire Yazidi community.”

“Germany is not only is raising awareness about the need for justice, but is acting on it,” she said in a statement. “Their use of universal jurisdiction in this case can and should be replicated by governments around the world.”

The verdict can be appealed.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A villager, dressed in a traditional bear costume, celebrates the Malanka festival in the village o...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: Ukrainians observe pagan-rooted new year festival

KRASNOILSK, Ukraine (AP) — Dressed as goats, bears, oxen and cranes, many Ukrainians ring in the new year in the colorful rituals of the Malanka holiday. Malanka, which draws on pagan folk tales, marks the new year according to the Julian calendar, meaning it falls on Jan. 13-14. In the festivities, celebrants go from house […]
1 day ago
A man repairs a 10-meter wooden row boat, built in the Nordic clinker boat tradition, at the Viking...
Associated Press

UNESCO lists Viking-era wooden sailboats on heritage list

ROSKILDE, Denmark (AP) — For thousands of years, wooden sailboats allowed the peoples of Northern Europe to spread trade, influence and sometimes war across seas and continents. In December, the U.N.’s culture agency added Nordic “clinker boats” to its list of traditions that represent the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and […]
1 day ago
Migrants gather near the Hungarian border, outside of the village of Martonosh, Serbia, Thursday, J...
Associated Press

Migrants at Hungary border become part of election campaign

MAJDAN, Serbia (AP) — A group of migrants huddles beside a small, smoky fire inside an abandoned building in northern Serbia, the last moments of warmth before they set out into the driving snow toward the razor wire, cameras and sensors of Hungary’s electrified border fence. A few hours later, they return, their efforts to […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Today in History

Today in History Today is Sunday, Jan. 23, the 23rd day of 2022. There are 342 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On Jan. 23, 2020, Chinese state media said the city of Wuhan would be shutting down outbound flights and trains, trying to halt the spread of a new virus that […]
1 day ago
Aleena Mir, a journalist with Kashmir Walla, records the news bulletin inside a studio of her offic...
Associated Press

In Kashmir, India batters press freedom — and journalists

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — For five years, Sajad Gul wrote about conflict wracking his homeland, a disputed Himalayan territory where a violent armed rebellion and India’s brutal counterinsurgency have raged for over three decades. That changed on a snowy Wednesday night in January with a knock at his house. Gul was surrounded by Indian soldiers […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Fake ambulance with 28 migrants aboard found in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican authorities have detected many strange schemes to smuggle Central American migrants to the U.S. border, but on Saturday they said they found a new one: a fake ambulance loaded with 28 Nicaraguans, including nine unaccompanied children. Mexico’s Interior Department said the vehicle had been painted with fake logos from a […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
German court convicts ex-IS member in Yazidi girl’s death