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Iraq’s judiciary denies deal to commute French jihadist death sentences

Iraq’s judiciary has denied it had struck a deal with Paris to commute the death sentences of French nationals convicted in Baghdad for belonging to the Islamic State group.

A Baghdad court issued death sentences in recent weeks for 11 Frenchmen transferred to Iraqi custody from neighboring Syria, where they were caught fighting for IS.

Only an appeals court — not a bilateral agreement — can change their sentences, according to Abdalsattar Bayraqdar, spokesman for Iraq’s Supreme Judicial Council.

“The sentences issued by Iraqi courts can only be reviewed by the court of cessation — which has the prerogative under the law to reaffirm the sentence or alter it depending on the circumstances of each crime — and not through deals between countries,” he says.

His statement comes after reports that Iraq’s government had struck a deal with Paris to commute the French citizens’ death sentences in exchange for money.

The 11 sentences are still not final.

According to Iraqi law, defendants have 30 days to appeal any sentence and for those facing the gallows, the appeal is automatically referred to the cassation court.

There, it will be reviewed by 12 judges, according to Mudhaffar Jaryan, a lawyer for one of the convicted men.

AFP

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