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Iraq’s courts sentence more than 300 to death for IS links

103 foreign nationals condemned to death


BAGHDAD: Members of the Russian diplomatic corps attend the trial of two Russian nationals at the Central penal Court in Baghdad. Two Russian women were sentenced to life in prison for belonging to the Islamic State group – the latest in a series of court judgments against jihadists. —AFP

BAGHDAD: Iraqi courts have sentenced to death a total of more than 300 people, including dozens of foreigners, for belonging to the Islamic State group, judicial sources said yesterday. The suspects are being tried by two courts, one near the former jihadist stronghold of Mosul in northern Iraq and another in Baghdad which is dealing notably with foreigners and women. Since January in the capital, 103 foreign nationals have been condemned to death-including six Turks sentenced yesterday-and 185 to life in prison, according to a judicial source. Most of the women sentenced were from Turkey and republics of the former Soviet Union.

In January, an Iraqi court condemned a German woman to death after finding her guilty of belonging to IS while on Tuesday a French woman was sentenced to life in prison. At the court In Tel Keif near Mosul, 212 people have been sentenced to death, 150 to life in prison and 341 to other jails terms, Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar said in a statement. “It has been proven that they carried out criminal actions at public hearings conducted in accordance with the law during which the convicts’ rights were guaranteed,” he said. Iraq declared victory in December against IS-also known as ISIS-which at one point controlled a third of the country.

On Monday the justice ministry said 11 people convicted of terrorism-related charges had been executed in Iraq, which according to New York-based Human Rights Watch is the world’s number four executioner. “These executions follow rushed trials of ISIS suspects which are riddled with due process violations, including convictions based solely on confessions which are sometimes extracted by torture,” said HRW senior Iraq researcher Belkis Wille. “Iraq’s mishandling of the ISIS trials not only denies victims real justice, but also risks sending innocent Iraqis to their deaths.”

American ‘IS fighter’
Meanwhile, US government intends to hand over to a third country an American citizen captured in Syria allegedly fighting for the Islamic State group, rather than present him to the US justice system, a court filing showed Tuesday. In the Trump administration’s first decision on how to deal with citizens caught fighting for a designated terror group, the US military plans to turn over the man, a dual US-Saudi citizen born in the United States and now held in Iraq, to an unnamed country as early as late Thursday.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which has been representing the man, known in court documents only as “John Doe”, said it plans to ask the court to block the transfer, arguing that he has not been charged with a crime and has the right to due process under US laws. “The Trump administration has been detaining this American citizen unlawfully for more than seven months, and forcibly rendering him to another country would be an unconscionable violation of his constitutional rights,” said ACLU attorney Jonathan Hafetz. “He should either be charged or freed, not handed over to an unnamed foreign government.”

The notice was made in a sealed two-page filing to the federal district court in Washington DC late Monday. A heavily redacted version of the filing was released Tuesday, saying the government had bowed to the court’s requirement that it give a 72 hour notification before it intends to transfer the detainee. The country he will be transferred to was blacked out in the public document. The government has earlier said it has two countries he could be sent to; one is widely presumed to be Saudi Arabia, the second could be Iraq.

The man is the only known US citizen held as an alleged enemy combatant from the battlefields of Iraq and Syria. On September 14 the Pentagon confirmed that they were holding him, saying he had been fighting for the Islamic State group and surrendered to the allied Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria days earlier. He was moved to Iraq where he has been interrogated by military and FBI investigators. The International Committee of the Red Cross was given access to him, and the ACLU sued to be able to represent him. In subsequent discussions with him, the ACLU says he asserted his habeas corpus rights to be charged under US law or be freed. It’s not clear why the government refuses to hand him over to the US justice system, as other Americans accused of terrorism have been. – Agencies

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