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German court convicts ex-IS member of killing Yazidi girl as part of ‘genocide’

Court also hands Taha Al-J. a life sentence, orders him to pay $57,000 to 5-year-old victim’s mother

An Iraqi defendant identified only as Taha al-J., believed to have belonged to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, hides his face before the start of his trial in which he is accused of genocide and murdering a young Yazidi girl he held as a slave, at the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, April 24, 2020. (Photo by Arne Dedert / POOL / AFP)
An Iraqi defendant identified only as Taha al-J., believed to have belonged to the Islamic State (IS) jihadist group, hides his face before the start of his trial in which he is accused of genocide and murdering a young Yazidi girl he held as a slave, at the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, April 24, 2020. (Photo by Arne Dedert / POOL / AFP)

BERLIN, Germany — A former member of the Islamic State group was convicted by a German court on Tuesday of genocide and committing a war crime 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 sentenced Taha Al-J., an Iraqi citizen whose full last name wasn’t released because of privacy rules, to life imprisonment and ordered him 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 conviction worldwide over a person’s role in the systematic persecution by IS of the Yazidi religious minority.

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 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 as slaves at an IS base in Syria in 2015. The two had been taken as prisoners by the militants in northern Iraq at the beginning of August 2014 and had been “sold and resold several times as slaves” by the group already.

File: A Yazidi Iraqi woman sits with her children at the Bajid Kandala camp near the Tigris River, in Kurdistan’s western Dohuk province, where they took refuge after fleeing advances by Islamic State jihadists in Iraq on August 13, 2014. (AFP/Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

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.

The girl’s mother, who survived captivity, testified at both trials.

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

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