Iraqi court sentences wife of slain Islamic State leader to death for crimes against Yazidi women

BAGHDAD — (AP) — An Iraqi court issued a death sentence against one of the wives of the late brutal Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, alleging that she was complicit in crimes committed against Yazidi women captured by the militant group, the country's judiciary announced Wednesday.

The ruling comes weeks before the 10-year mark since IS launched a series of attacks against the Yazidi religious minority in the northern Iraqi region of Sinjar in early August 2014, killing and capturing thousands — including women and girls who were subjected to human trafficking and sexual abuse. The United Nations said the campaign against the Yazidis amounted to genocide.

A statement by Iraq’s judicial council said the Karkh Criminal Court sentenced the woman for “detaining Yazidi women in her home” and facilitating their kidnapping by “the terrorist (Islamic State group) gangs in Sinjar district.” It also said the ruling was issued in accordance with Iraq’s anti-terrorism law and its “Yazidi survivors law."

The statement did not name the defendant, but two court officials identified her as Asma Mohammed, who was arrested in 2018 in Turkey and later extradited. A senior Iraqi security official told The Associated Press that another wife of al-Baghdadi and his daughter, who were also extradited from Turkey to Iraq, had been sentenced to life in prison.

The sentences were handed down a week ago but were announced by the judicial council Wednesday, he said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.

Survivors of the IS attacks in Iraq have complained of a lack of accountability and have criticized the decision — made at the request of the Iraqi government — to wind down a U.N. probe into IS crimes, including the alleged use of chemical weapons.

At the same time, human rights groups have raised concerns about the lack of due process in trials of alleged IS members in Iraq and have particularly criticized mass executions of those convicted on terrorism charges. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have said the confessions are often extracted under torture and urged Iraq to abolish the death penalty.

On June 29, 2014, al-Baghdadi, known as one of the most ruthlessly effective jihadist leaders of modern times, declared the militant group's caliphate in large swaths of Iraq and Syria. In 2019, he was killed in a U.S. raid in Syria, dealing a major blow to the militant group, which has now lost its hold on all the areas it previously controlled, though some of its cells continue to carry out attacks.

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