IS Member to Serve Life in Prison for Death of 5-Year-Old Girl Chained Under Hot Sun
An Islamic State group member was sentenced Tuesday to serve life in a German prison after he bought a 5-year-old as a slave and chained her directly in front of the hot sun until she died, the Associated Press reported.
Taha Al-J., was convicted of genocide and committing a war crime over the death of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl Reda. Toward the end of 2015 Al-J. allegedly punished Reda for wetting the bed by chaining her to the bar window in direct sunlight where she ultimately died after the temperature reached 122 Fahrenheit.
In 2015 Al-J. bought Reda and her Yazidi mother as slaves at a Syrian IS base. Al-J., took them to his home in Fallujah, Iraq where the mother and child were starved and beaten regularly as punishment, according to the indictment.
The German authorities tried the case against Al-J. under the principle of universal jurisdiction. The jurisdiction allows the country to try serious crimes even if they weren't committed in Germany or have any direct connection to the country.
"Germany is not only is raising awareness about the need for justice but is acting on it," Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Nadia Murad said in a statement. "Their use of universal jurisdiction in this case can and should be replicated by governments around the world."
For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:
Murad, who survived atrocities committed by IS, said the verdict was "a win for survivors of genocide, survivors of sexual violence, and the entire Yazidi community."
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.
"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.
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 and forced them to "keep house and to live according to strict Islamic rules."
Al-J. was arrested in Greece and extradited to Germany two years ago.
The defendant's lawyers had denied the allegations made against their client.
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.
Al-J., an Iraqi citizen whose full last name wasn't released because of privacy rules, was ordered to pay the girl's mother 50,000 euros ($57,000).