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Iraqi court sentences French woman to life in jail over Daesh membership

This file photo purportedly shows French citizen Melina Boughedir.

An Iraqi court has sentenced a French woman to life in prison for her suspected membership in the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, some six months after Baghdad announced that the terror outfit had lost all of its urban bastions in the Arab country.

Melina Boughedir, a mother of four, on Sunday told the judge in French that she was “innocent” and that her husband, who is now believed to be killed in anti-terror operations, first “duped” her and then “threatened” her to take away the children from her unless she followed him to the Arab country, where he planned joining Daesh.

“I am opposed to the ideology” of Daesh and “condemn the actions of my husband,” the 27-year-old French citizen said in defense while she wore a black dress and a black headscarf.

Boughedir arrived in the courtroom as she was carrying her youngest daughter in her arms. Her three other children are now in France.

Arrested in the summer of 2017 in Mosul, the former de facto capital of Daesh, the French woman was initially sentenced to seven months in prison by a court in February for “illegal” entry into Iraq and was set to be deported to her home country. However, another court ordered her re-trial under Iraq’s anti-terrorist law and on Sunday she was found guilty of being a member of Daesh.

On Thursday, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said that Boughedir was a “Daesh terrorist who fought against Iraq” and that she should be tried on Iraqi soil.

Her defense team, however, tried to persuade Iraqi authorities to allow her to return to France and face a court there, but all to no avail, prompting her lawyers to denounce Le Drian and French authorities over “pressure on the Iraqi judicial system” and “unacceptable interference.”

Boughedir’s defense team believed that the French government, through putting pressure on Baghdad, prevents the return of detained terrorists to France.

The French woman’s sentence was the latest given to foreign nationals who flocked to join after the terror group overran the northern third of Iraq and swathes of Syria in 2014.

On May 22, an Iraqi court sentenced Belgian terrorist Tarik Jadaoun, aka Abu Hamza al-Beljiki, to death by hanging.

On December 9, 2017, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the country. On July 10, he formally declared victory over the terrorists in Mosul, which served as their main urban stronghold in Iraq.

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