Washington Post | David Rising | AP | April 9
27-year-old German Jennifer W. covers her face as she arrives at a court in Munich, southern Germany, Tuesday, April 9, 2019. The woman is accused of letting a 5-year-old girl she and her husband held as a slave in Islamic State-held territory in Iraq die of thirst. (Peter Kneffel/dpa via AP) (Associated Press)
BERLIN — A German convert to Islam went on trial Tuesday on charges that, as a member of the extremist Islamic State group in Iraq, she allowed a 5-year-old Yazidi girl she and her husband kept as a slave to die of thirst in the hot sun.
The 27-year-old, identified only as Jennifer W. in line with privacy rules, is charged with murder, a war crime and membership in a terrorist organization, and could face life in prison if convicted in Munich state court.
Pleas are not entered in the German system, and as her trial opened her attorney Seda Basay-Yildiz said the defendant had no statement to make to the court about the charges against her, the dpa news agency reported.
The girl’s mother is to be called as a witness, and is also a co-plaintiff in the case as allowed under German law. Her lawyers include Amal Clooney, who specializes in international law and human rights cases.
Neither was in court for the opening hearing before the trial was adjourned for three weeks, but Clooney said in a statement it was hoped the case would encourage more prosecutions of returning Islamic State members for international crimes.
The United Nations has called the IS assault on the Yazidis’ ancestral homeland in northern Iraq in 2014 a genocide, saying the Yazidis’ ”400,000-strong community had all been displaced, captured or killed.” Of the thousands captured by IS, boys were forced to fight for the extremists, men were executed if they didn’t convert to Islam — and often executed in any case — and women and girls were sold into slavery.
“Yazidi victims of genocide have waited far too long for their day in court,” Clooney said. “I hope that this will be the first of many trials that will finally bring ISIS to justice in line with international law.”