Iraqi court sentences 2 French IS member to death

FILE - in this Sunday, May 5, 2019 file photo, people walk outside Iraqi Criminal Court in Baghdad's Karkh district, Iraq. A court in Baghdad sentenced Sunday two French citizens to death for being members of the Islamic State group including one who last week said he was subjected to torture while in detention, an Iraqi judicial official said. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed, File)
In this Sunday, May 5, 2019 photo, an IS suspect wearing a red prison suit, center right, being led to the Iraqi Criminal Court in Baghdad's Karkh district, Iraq. Iraq on Wednesday handed over 188 Turkish children of suspected Islamic State militants to Turkey, while a court sentenced two former Islamic State members to death for joining the extremist group. They included one Frenchman and a Tunisian resident of France, bringing the number of French nationals condemned to death in the past week to seven. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)

BAGHDAD — A court in Baghdad on Sunday sentenced two French citizens to death for being members of the Islamic State group, including one who last week said he was subjected to torture while in detention, an Iraqi judicial official said.

The sentencings in Iraq come amid controversy about the legal treatment of thousands of foreign fighters who had joined IS at the height of its power in Syria and Iraq, when the militant group declared its self-styled caliphate.

Human rights groups are concerned these defendants are being rushed through Iraqi counterterrorism courts in trials that raise questions over whether justice is being done. Convictions are often based on confessions that defendants and rights groups say are extracted by intimidation, torture and abuse and without due process.

The judicial official said the court sentenced to death Fadil Hamad Abdallah, 33, of Moroccan origin and Vianney Jamal Abdelqader, 29. Abdallah, who was known within the group as Abu Mariam, told the court last week that he was subjected to torture. He was then referred to a medical committee that, after examining him, said he had made false claims about torture.

The judicial official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The new sentences raise the number of French citizens given death sentences over the past two weeks to nine.

France has said it would do all it can to spare the group from execution in Iraq. Although it has made no effort to bring back the captured fighters, France has taken an outspoken stance against the death penalty worldwide.

Although European IS members have been sentenced to death, none have actually been executed in Iraq.

Those sentenced are among a group of 12 French citizens who were detained by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in neighboring Syria and handed over to Iraq in January.

The Kurdish-led group spearheaded the fight against IS in Syria and has handed hundreds of suspected IS members over to Iraq in recent months.

An Iraqi intelligence official told The Associated Press that the SDF handed over to Syria 1,142 Iraqi IS members, of which 157 were sentenced to death. He added that five other foreigners were transferred to Iraq, including two Iranians, two Tunisians and a Chinese national. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Also in Baghdad, Iraqi authorities handed over 122 Turkish children of suspected IS militants to Turkey's government representatives, according to a statement by the justice ministry. Sunday's handover came days after 188 other children were handed over to Turkish authorities.

In an interview with Turkey's official Anadolu news agency last month, Turkey's ambassador in Baghdad said he aimed to repatriate all children of Turkish IS families from Iraq ahead of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and is expected to begin on Tuesday. Ambassador Fatih Yildiz also said Turkey asked Iraq to return all Turkish citizens but the process was complicated by an agreement that barred suspects with terror links from repatriation.

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