In a landmark verdict, an Iraqi member of the Islamic State (IS) has been found guilty of genocide by a German court over the death of a five-year-old Yazidi girl he had bought as a slave and then chained up in the hot sun to die.
On Tuesday, the court in Frankfurt found Taha al-Jumailly guilty of genocide, as well as crimes against humanity, war crimes and human trafficking and sentenced him to life in prison. He fainted when the verdict was delivered, temporarily delaying the proceedings.
He killed the five-year-old girl, prosecutors said, because she belonged to the Yazidi minority and he intended to wipe them out.
Al-Jumailly is the first IS member to be convicted of genocide against the Yazidis.
During the trial his defence lawyers had denied the allegations.
The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking minority, were persecuted by IS after the jihadist group seized large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq beginning in 2014.
Thousands of men were killed and women and children were enslaved and raped when IS fighters stormed into the ancestral heartland of the Yazidis in northern Iraq.
The United Nations has said IS committed genocide as well as multiple crimes against humanity and war crimes against the Yazidis.
Al-Jumailly, 29, was said to have joined IS in 2013 and held several roles in the capital of its so-called caliphate in Raqqa in Syria as well as in Iraq.
He was arrested in Greece in 2019, extradited to Germany and prosecuted under the international legal principle of universal jurisdiction.
His German wife, Jennifer Wenisch, was jailed for 10 years last month for crimes against humanity, for doing nothing to save the Yazidi girl she and her husband had enslaved.
Under Germany’s international criminal code, a person is deemed to have committed genocide if they have killed, caused serious bodily or mental harm to a member of a group, or moved a child by force, with the intent of destroying “in whole or in part, a national, racial, religious or ethnic group”.
Prosecutors said the girl and her mother, Nora, were bought as slaves in late May or early June 2015 and taken to Falluja in Iraq, where they were mistreated until September 2015.
They said he had punished both mother and daughter when the child wet her mattress.
The mother suffered severe burns when she was forced to stand outside in temperatures of 50C, and her daughter was tied to a window in the scorching heat before she died of thirst.
London-based human rights lawyer Amal Clooney was part of the legal team representing the girl’s mother.
In a statement, Mrs Clooney praised her client’s “courage” and said Tuesday’s verdict was “the moment Yazidis had been waiting for”. “There is no more denying it – ISIS (another name for IS) is guilty of genocide,” she said.
Last month, she said she hoped to see “a more concerted global effort” to bring IS members to justice after the conviction of al-Jumailly’s wife.
Germany is one of the few countries to have pursued prosecution against IS members for crimes against the Yazidis. (Source: BBC)