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Iraq begins legal proceedings against 14 French ISIS fighters

2019/03/15 | 22:15

(Hatha al-Youm | Iraq News)-

Iraq has begun court proceedings against 14 suspected French

members of jihadist group captured by US-backed forces

and transferred to Iraq from Syria last month, two legal sources said.The men appeared before an investigative judge of Baghdad's

anti-terrorism court on March 6 in a procedural step towards putting them on

trial, according to a court-appointed lawyer who attended the session and a

member of the judicial council.All 14 signed confessions saying they had been in Mosul when

it was under ISIS rule from 2014 to 2017, according to the two legal

sources, speaking on condition of anonymity.If they are tried in Iraq and found guilty of having

committed crimes against Iraq and the Iraqi people, they could face the death

penalty, said the judicial council member."The course of investigations and indictment are

leaning towards handing them the death sentence eventually," said the

court-appointed lawyer.Iraqi President Barham Salih said this month that convicted

foreign fighters could be sentenced to death in Iraq.ISIS redrew the map of the Middle East in 2014 when

it declared an ultra-radical Sunni Islamist "caliphate" spanning

parts of Syria and Iraq and established a rule known for mass killings, sexual

enslavement and punishments like crucifixion.Security sources said the 14 stand accused by the Iraqi

National Intelligence Service of carrying out "terrorist acts" in

Mosul and running some of ISIS's financial affairs.The French Foreign Ministry declined to comment, saying it

was entirely an Iraqi legal matter.The 14 were among 280 Iraqi and foreign detainees handed

over to Iraq by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, who are now close to

capturing the last small patch of ISIS-held territory in Baghouz near the border

with Iraq.Iraqi officials have said they will either help repatriate

non-Iraqi ISIS detainees to their home countries or prosecute those suspected of

having committed crimes against Iraqis.The written confession of one of the suspected militants,

made available to Reuters by a lawyer, indicated he was a French national of

Tunisian origin and had served as a soldier in the French army from 2000 to

2010, including a tour in Afghanistan in 2009.He decided to join the militants in Syria after

watching many videos produced by the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front group,

according to the written confession, which added that he participated in the

battle for Mosul, without elaborating.Another confession, of a Frenchman of Algerian origin, said

he left France for Turkey and then Syria in 2013 after being watching jihadist

videos online, and then joined ISIS in Mosul.Baghdad-based security analyst Hisham al-Hashimi, who

advises the government on ISIS, said that the 14 Frenchmen were

unlikely to have held senior positions in ISIS.









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