An Iraqi suspected of belonging to Islamic State will face charges of murder and genocide, German prosecutors said on Friday, accused especially of letting a five-year-old “slave” girl die of thirst.
Taha A.-J. is the husband of Jennifer W., a woman who has been on trial in Munich since last year over accusations that the two mistreated a Yazidi mother and daughter, before allowing the young girl to die.
The case against the couple has been described by media and lawyers as the first time worldwide that an ISIS member has been tried for crimes against the Yazidis, a religious minority which suffered brutal persecution at the hands of the Islamic State from 2014.
Prosecutors allege that A.-J., who joined ISIS in 2013, purchased the Yazidi child and her mother as household “slaves” and held them captive while living with Jennifer W. in then ISIS-occupied Mosul, Iraq, in 2015.
Their actions were aimed at “destroying the Yazidis, their religion and their culture in keeping with the aims of ISIS,” the prosecutors’ statement said.
The couple are alleged to have forced the mother and daughter to convert to Islam, starved them of food and water and subjected them to beatings.
A.-J. ultimately chained the five-year-old girl to a window outdoors in heat mounting to 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit), leading her to die of thirst, according to the case.
“The accused thought it possible that the girl would die and recklessly took that into account,” prosecutors said.
Arrested in Greece in May 2019 and in detention in Germany since October, A.-J. has also been charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity and human trafficking for labour exploitation.
Jennifer W. has been on trial in Munich since April.
Recruited to ISIS in mid-2015, she was later arrested in Turkey and extradited back to Germany, but not convicted.
She was arrested again in June 2018 after speaking about the Yazidi child’s death to an undercover police informant, who she believed would help her return to ISIS territory.
Prominent London-based human rights lawyer Amal Clooney is part of the team representing the dead Yazidi girl’s mother, who is a co-plaintiff in the case.
Clooney has been involved in a campaign with Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, a former ISIS sex slave, to have the ISIS crimes against the Yazidi minority be recognized as a genocide.
With reporting from AFP