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03.06.2019 Middle East

Iraqi court condemns ninth French jihadi to death

AFP / Sabah Arar

An Iraqi court has sentenced to death two more Frenchmen for joining the Islamic State armed group, bringing the total to nine. The court rejected one of the men's claims he was tortured into confessing.

Fodil Tahar Aouidate, 32, first appeared in court on 27 May. But a judge delayed his trial to allow for a medical examination.

"The medical report shows that there are no signs of torture on his body," the judge told the court on Sunday morning.

Aouidate showed no reaction when the judge handed down his death sentence, according to an AFP journalist at the trial.

Vianney Ouraghi, 28, whose trial was brought forward a day, was also handed down the death penalty for joining IS. The Algerian-born Frenchman admitted he had worked for IS but said he "had not taken part in the fighting either in Syria or in Iraq".

French government spokesperson Sibeth Ndiaye reaffirmed on Sunday that France would intervene "at the highest level" to protest the death sentences against its citizens.

Nine now on death row
Aouidate and Ouraghi were two of 11 French citizens and a Tunisian handed over to Iraqi authorities early this year by a US-backed force in Syria which expelled the jihadist group from its last bastion.

A Baghdad court had already handed capital punishments to seven of the French jihadists and the Tunisian over the past week.

Two have already said they will appeal.
Interrogated for four months, Aouidate alleged he was beaten to "confess" to the charges levelled against him.

Human Rights Watch on Friday accused Iraqi interrogators of "using a range of torture techniques" and condemned France's "outsourcing" of trials of IS suspects to "abusive justice systems".

France has long insisted its adult citizens captured in Iraq or Syria must face trial before local courts, while stressing its opposition to capital punishment.

Iraqi law provides for the death penalty for anyone joining a "terrorist group", even those who did not take up arms.

Aouidate first went to Syria in 2013 and returned in 2014 with 22 members of his family to join IS, according to the French judiciary.

Authorities also linked him to Belgium's Salafist movement including Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the presumed mastermind of the 2015 Paris attacks.

France convicted two of Aouidate's sisters for "financing terrorism" for sending 15,000 euros to relatives in Syria.