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Iraqi court sentences Belgian man to death for Daesh membership

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This file picture shows a view of the Central Criminal Court of Iraq in the capital Baghdad.

A court in Iraq has sentenced a Belgian national to death by hanging over his membership in the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group and involvement in criminal acts in the war-ravaged Arab country.

The country’s Central Criminal Court issued the verdict against the 23-year-old, identified as Bilal al-Marchohi, on Monday.

Judge Jumaa Saidi read out portions of Marchohi's signed confession during an hour of proceedings, and showed a video and photographs that he said proved the Belgian man’s membership in Daesh.

A translator was appointed by the judge for Marchohi, who spoke in English throughout the trial.

Marchohi was also given a court appointed lawyer, with whom he had no contact at all during the hearing.

Belgian consular representatives also attended the proceedings.

Images from a phone found in Marchohi’s possession at the time of arrest showed him carrying a gun and making a hand gesture affiliated with Daesh.

Marchohi repeatedly denied the charges brought against him throughout the trial, including that he was a member of Daesh terrorist group in Iraq at any time.

“I shouldn't be prosecuted in Iraq. I should be prosecuted in Belgium, I am a Belgian citizen,” he said.

Marchohi is the second Belgian national to have been held in Iraq and sentenced to death for a role in Daesh.

Tarek Jadaoun, 30, better known by the nom de guerre Abu Hamza al-Beljiki, was sentenced to death in May 2018.

Jadaoun featured prominently in Daesh's propaganda video clips, which showed the high-ranking Daesh terrorist threatening attacks on European soil.

Hundreds of European nationals traveled to the Middle East to join Daesh after the terror group captured large swathes of territory in Iraq and neighboring Syria in mid-2014.

Iraq has been trying hundreds of suspected Daesh members, many of whom were detained as the outfit’s strongholds crumbled throughout Iraq. This includes hundreds of foreigners.

Former Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of military operations against Daesh in the Arab country on December 9, 2017.

On July 10 that year, he had formally declared victory over Daesh in Mosul, which served as the terrorists’ main urban stronghold in Iraq.

In the run-up to Mosul's liberation, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters had made sweeping gains against Daesh.

Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January 2017 after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19 last year.

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