Thursday 13 December 2018

German teenage 'Isis bride' could face death penalty in Iraq

'Teenagers under certain laws... are accountable for their actions, especially if the act is a criminal activity when it amounts to killing innocent people'

Iraqi soldiers with Linda Wenzel
Iraqi soldiers with Linda Wenzel

Rachel Roberts

Iraq’s Prime Minister has said it is possible a teenage German ‘jihadi bride’ could face the death penalty for her involvement with Isis.

The fate of 16-year-old Linda Wenzel now lies in the hands of the Iraqi judicial process, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said.

The teenager was found hiding in a basement in Mosul by Iraqi forces during an offensive to drive the jihadists from the city in July.

She ran away from her home in eastern Germany to join Isis in Iraq after talking to extremists online and is believed to have spent around a year in the country.

She is currently in a Baghdad prison awaiting trial to determine whether she faces death by hanging.

“You know teenagers under certain laws, they are accountable for their actions especially if the act is a criminal activity when it amounts to killing innocent people,” the Prime Minister said in an interview with the Associated Press.

Iraq carried out at least 88 executions by hanging in 2016 and has put to death large numbers of people for terrorism offences since wresting Mosul back from Isis.

If tried in Germany, Linda could face a prison term between of between one and ten years. Germany's Foreign Ministry previously said they were working on returning the teen and three other German women who are imprisoned in Iraq, but there is currently no extradition treaty between the two countries.

Iraqi intelligence forces told AP that Linda allegedly worked with the Isis “police force”.

Amir Musawy, an Iraqi journalist who met the German teenager after her arrest, said she was “exhausted” and had a leg injury when he spoke to her.

He said he was not sure she recognised the gravity of the situation she now finds herself in.

“I do not have the feeling that she understands what she did, and what she might have waiting for her, whether in Iraq or in Germany.

“She just told me that she wants her home back, like a journey that she went on and did not like.

“It’s like she is still thinking like a child or a young woman and not understanding what is waiting for her.”

He added that the teenager was wearing a headscarf when they met and appeared to be still under the influence of the jihadists.

“She does want to go home, definitely, she answered ‘Yes, I am German’ when I asked her that.”

Linda, who comes from the small town of Saxony,  is being held in Baghdad along with hundreds of other foreign women with Isis links suspected of carrying out terrorist attacks, Iraqi officials said.

She was just 15 years old when she fled her homeland and told journalists in July that she regrets ever going to Iraq.

“I want to go home to my family,” she said at the time. “I want to get out of the war, away from the weapons, the noise.”

She said it took her a month to travel to Turkey, through Syria and into Iraq to marry an Isis fighter before she was taken to Mosul, where her husband was killed shortly after they arrived.

The Prime Minister said Iraqi forces detained 1,333 women and children who surrendered to Kurdish forces during the offensive to liberate Mosul.

The other non-Iraqi women include citizens from France, Belgium, Syria and Iran.

Many of those being detained at the camp are not guilty of any crime, Mr al-Abadi said, adding that his government is communicating with their home countries to “find a way to hand them over”.

So far, Iraq has repatriated fewer than 100 people, but the Prime Minister said: “It is not in our interest to keep families and children inside our country when their countries are prepared to take them.”

Independent News Service

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