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An Iraqi court has sentenced a German woman and a French man to life in prison after finding them guilty of joining "Islamic State." They're among hundreds of Europeans accused of having links to the extremist group.
A court in Iraq on Monday handed life sentences to German citizen Nadia Rainer Hermann and French citizen Lahcen Ammar Gueboudj after finding them guilty of joining the "Islamic State" (IS) extremist group.
The sentences can be appealed.
Hermann had earlier been given a one-year jail term for entering Iraq illegally. In January, her mother, a German of Moroccan descent, was sentenced to death for IS membership. That death sentence was later commuted to a life sentence, meaning that she wil serve at least 20 years.
Hermann and her mother were arrested in the Iraqi city of Mosul in July 2017. Mosul served as the militants' de facto capital in Iraq. Hermann claims she traveled to Iraq "to run away from the people of IS" when she appeared in court on Monday.
Hermann also told the court, in German, that she had traveled to Syria through Turkey. She said she had traveled with her mother, her daughter and her mentally disabled sister. The sister, she claimed, was killed in a bombing.
Hermann's defense attorney argued that her marriage to an IS fighter in Syria was "not a decision taken by an adult in full conscience," as she was a minor at the time.
Addressing the court, Lahcen Ammar Gueboudj said, "I never would have left France if my eldest son Nabil, 25 years old, hadn't gone to Syria. I wanted to convince him to return with us to France." Gueboudj, who was arrested in Iraq after traveling to Syria via Turkey with his wife and children, also said: "I signed confessions in Arabic without knowing what was written. Gueboudj addressed the court in French.
Hundreds of Europeans traveled to the Middle East to join IS after the militants captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria in 2014. They've since lost most of that land, with Iraq's government declaring victory against the group in December.
Iraqi forces have captured hundreds of suspected IS members, including dozens of foreigners, in offensives to expel the extremists from the country. Many of them are now facing trial in Iraq.
Around 20 foreign women, including nationals of Germany, Azerbaijan and Turkey, have been sentenced to death.
js, nm/rt (AFP, Reuters)