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Iraq court clears Swedish woman of belonging to ISIS

An Iraqi court in Baghdad cleared a Swedish woman of allegations that she belonged to Islamic State due to lack of evidence, a judicial source said.

Under Iraq’s anti-terrorism law, courts can sentence to death anyone found guilty of belonging to ISIS, including non-combatants.

Victoria Lazar, a Swede of Serbian origin in her late 20s, was acquitted of the charge “for lack of sufficient evidence,” the judicial source told AFP on Wednesday, October 31.

But she was sentenced in a separate case to six months in prison for illegally entering Iraq, the source added.

During questioning, Lazar had told interrogators she had come to Iraq with her husband and their three children, now aged five, four and three.

She said her husband had been killed in 2016 during bombing in Tal Afar, near Mosul in the north of the country.

More than 300 people, including around 100 foreigners, have been sentenced to death and many others to life imprisonment in Iraq for joining ISIS, the Sunni extremist group which at its peak controlled nearly a third of the country.

Only one other woman is known to have been cleared of ties to the group. Is August, a judge found there was no evidence to link a German-Turkish woman, Hadya Abdel Qader, to ISIS. The 40-year-old had been held without charge since her arrest.

Last month a Baghdad court sentenced to death Islmail Alwaan al-Ithawi, a senior ISIS figure and deputy to its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

On September 10, Iraq executed seven men convicted on terrorism charges. In June, Iraq executed 13 people after ISIS claimed responsibility for the murder of eight civilians.

In April, a court commuted the death sentence of a German woman of Moroccan origin, reducing her sentence for ISIS membership to a life term.

Iraq has urged the home countries of ISIS foreign fighters to repatriate their children. At least 833 children of 14 nationalities are currently in prison in Iraq, according to the Joint Operations Command, which coordinates the fight against ISIS.

With reporting from AFP

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