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German court convicts woman of enslaving Yazidi woman

June 21, 2023

A German court has convicted a woman of membership of the "Islamic State" terror organization, crimes against humanity and aiding and abetting genocide. The 37-year-old kept a Yazidi woman as a "household slave" in Iraq.

The defendant Nadine K. in court
It's thought that Nadine K. became radicalized while she was a studentImage: Thomas Frey/dpa/picture alliance

The Koblenz Higher Regional Court on Wednesday sentenced a woman, Nadine K., on Wednesday for being part of the so-called "Islamic State" militant group and taking part in abusing a Yazidi woman.

The court ruled that the 37-year-old had abused a Yazidi woman, forcing her to be a "household slave" while living with the group in Iraq and Syria. She was found guilty of crimes against humanity as well as aiding and abetting genocide.

The Yazidi woman testified at the trial and said she recognized the defendant. She traveled to Koblenz again for the verdict.

What were the court's findings?

The presiding judge in the case said the accused had abused the Yazidi woman "for her own purposes as a household slave" for three years during her time with Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

"The starting point here is the meeting of two women whose lives would have had no points of contact under normal circumstances," the judge said.

The couple enslaved the 22-year-old woman from Iraq's Yazidi minority in 2016. She had been abducted by IS members in 2014, after the extremist group attacked her home village in the Iraqi Sinjar region. 

The court noted that the defendant's husband had brought the victim into the household and beat and raped her regularly. Nadine K. had enabled and encouraged this, the court found.

"She could have and should have done something," the judge said.

Aftermath of a genocide

The court found the accused to be an intelligent and self-determined woman, concluding that she had willingly joined IS.

While the court said there was no mitigating evidence that distanced the defendant from the crimes, the judge noted that she had shown remorse and compassion "at least to some extent."

The sentence fell short of the 10 years demanded by the prosecution.

Couple's journey to join IS

Nadine K. is believed to have become radicalized during her studies in the western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.

She traveled from Germany to Syria with her husband in December 2014. Prosecutors say the purpose was to join IS.

In 2015, the couple moved to Mosul, Iraq, which had been taken by IS forces.

Nadine K.'s husband is believed to have worked as a doctor for IS fighters, while she took care of the household and their two daughters. The couple allegedly stored weapons in their home, which reportedly served as a hostel for "single female members" of IS.

The couple returned to Syria in late 2016, bringing their Yazidi captive with them.

They remained in IS-controlled regions of Syria until March 2019, when Kurdish forces took the couple into custody.

Yazidis in Germany: Late hope for justice?

Nadine K. returned to Germany in March 2021, with authorities arresting her on arrival at Frankfurt International Airport.

The trial is the latest in a string of prosecutions in Germany involving women who traveled to IS-controlled regions in Syria and Iraq.

In 2021, a court sentenced a German convert to Islam on charges that she allowed a 5-year-old Yazidi girl who she and her husband kept as a slave to die of thirst in the sun. The husband was also subsequently convicted.

rc/rs (dpa, AP, AFP)