A Munich court has sentenced a German woman who allowed a young Yazidi girl to die of thirst to 10 years in prison after finding her guilty of supporting Islamic State militants in Iraq, aiding and abetting attempted murder, attempted war crimes and a crime against humanity.
Prosecutors had accused the 30-year-old woman, identified as Jennifer W in court documents, of joining the militant group in 2014 and integrating herself into its decision-making and command structure .
The woman was accused of letting a five-year-old enslaved Yazidi girl die of thirst after her husband, an IS fighter, chained the child up in a courtyard without protection from the desert heat as punishment for wetting her mattress, prosecutors said.
The Yazidis are an ancient religious minority who combine Zoroastrian, Christian, Manichean, Jewish and Muslim beliefs.
The court considered the fact that the woman did not take steps to prevent the girl’s death a crime against humanity and sentenced her to nine years in jail for it, a spokesperson said.
The woman also received two and half years for joining a terrorist group, and the two sentences were combined into a total of 10 years, the spokesperson said.
The prosecutor said Monday’s verdict was significant because it found someone guilty of a crime that took place years ago outside Germany.
“It’s decisive that a crime that no one would have thought would ever be solved was in fact cleared up in a criminal trial today,” the federal prosecutor Claudia Gorf said.
The case was brought by the mother of the child, who was represented by two German lawyers and the human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.
“I think for a mother who lost her child, there is no sentence severe enough,” said Natalie Von Wistinghausen, the plaintiff’s lawyer.
“For her, it was important … that the world knows who is responsible and today, she received such a decision,” she said.
Jennifer W’s lawyer said it was important to isolate the subjective guilt of his client and not to hold her responsible for what IS militants had done to the Yazidi community in general.
IS members, who view the Yazidis as devil worshippers, have killed more than 3,000, enslaved 7,000 women and girls and displaced most of the 550,000-strong community from their ancestral home in northern Iraq.
The case is believed to be the first in the world to indict crimes committed by IS members against the community, the Yazidi organisation Yazda said.
The defendant was arrested on her way back to Syria from Germany in 2018.
The federal prosecutor’s office had demanded a life sentence. The defence pleaded for a maximum of two years.