Iraq denies reports of deal with France for commute of death sentences
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s judiciary on Tuesday denied reports that Baghdad had reached a deal with France for the reversal of death penalties handed down to 11 French nationals for their membership in the self-proclaimed Islamic State.
“There is no deal between the Iraqi government and the French government to reduce the death penalty against those convicted [ISIS members] of French citizenship,” Judge Abdul Sattar al-Birqdar, a spokesperson for the Iraqi judiciary, said in a statement.
Birqdar noted that decisions by the Iraqi courts “are subject to the scrutiny of the Court of Cassation only, which has the power under the law to approve or change the penalty according to the circumstances of each crime, and not based on dealings between governments.”
The statement follows reports in the media that claimed Iraq told France it would consider the death sentences handed down to French nationals if Paris pays Baghdad millions of euros in exchange.
Iraqi courts have put on trial hundreds of foreigners, sentencing many to life in prison and others to death. In recent weeks, Baghdad handed death sentences to 11 French nationals for their role with the Islamic State.
Human rights groups have criticized inconsistencies in the judicial process in Iraq and the prominence of flawed trials.
After some of the French nationals claimed in court that Iraqi officials had tortured them, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on nations not to rely on Iraq, a country notorious for using torture to extract confessions to try their citizens.
Many nations in the European Union fear that due to the lack of evidence, Islamic State supporters could be quickly released once they appear in court after returning home. As such, the notion of an international criminal court to try them either in Iraq or Syria seems to be an attractive solution for them.
None of the sentences have yet been carried out, but France has said it was intensifying diplomatic efforts to spare its citizens from execution, according to a previous statement released by the French Foreign Ministry.
According to Iraqi law, the convicted have 30 days to file appeals.