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War crimes for German members of the 'Islamic State'?

German prosecutors could charge two nationals suspected of fighting with "Islamic State" for war crimes, according to a newspaper. The men are the Berlin rapper Denis Cuspert and the German-Algerian Fared S.

Two German men suspected of fighting alongside the "Islamic State" (IS) group in Syria and Iraq could face war crimes charges if the Federal Prosecutor's Office has its way, the newspaper Welt am Sonntag has reported. According to the paper's Sunday edition the onetime Berlin-based rapper Denis Cuspert (pictured) and the German-Algerian Fared S., of Bonn, could face the charges upon their return to the country.

"The Federal Prosecutor's Office is studying its authority in the conflict in Syria and Iraq in all for all legal purposes from all points of view," a spokeswoman told the newspaper, neither confirming nor denying its report.

The Federal Criminal Police believe that in the past year the men killed soldiers and civilians inside Syria, the Berlin-based newspaper reported. The investigation does not just cover, as so many recent inquiries have, membership in and support of terrorist groups and plotting serious seditious violence, but also Paragraph 8 of the federal penal code, which addresses war crimes against individuals. A conviction could mean life in prison.

"There is every indication that IS fighters commit crimes," the Cologne-based international law expert Claus Kreß told the newspaper, "namely crimes against humanity, war crimes in a noninternational armed conflict - and perhaps even genocide."

The news comes as a woman from Bonn is on trial in Düsseldorf on charges of financially supporting IS and in December a 20-year-old man received a nearly four-year sentence for fighting with the group. German police have also conducted a series of raids on the residences of people suspected of fighting for or otherwise aiding IS. The support for IS in Germany has led some to fear that the group could launch domestic attacks.

Editor's note: Deutsche Welle is bound by German law and the German press code, which stresses the importance of protecting the privacy of suspected criminals or victims and obliges us to refrain from revealing full names in such cases.

mkg/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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