ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq has told France it would consider commuting the death sentences handed down to French nationals if Paris pays Baghdad millions of euros in exchange, according to a security official.
An unnamed security source revealed to The National on Sunday that Iraq and France are in negotiations, which have been ongoing for months, on an agreement to alter the death sentences handed to 11 French nationals who are accused of membership to the so-called Islamic State.
“There have been diplomatic and security leaks regarding this development that Baghdad has requested €2 million and for France to leave behind its military equipment as a gift to Baghdad,” the security source said.
Conservative French newspaper Le Figaro also reported on Saturday that Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul Mahdi had discussed the matter with President Emmanuel Macron during a visit to Paris last month.
According to the paper, the Iraqi government wants €1 million for each foreign fighter transferred from Syria and given the death sentence, and €2 million for every foreign fighter whose sentence is changed to life imprisonment.
The Elysée Palace and the Iraqi embassy in Paris have both denied the reports.
Kurdistan 24 contacted Iraq’s foreign ministry to provide further comment on the matter but received no response.
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 the 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.