German woman voices remorse over enslaved Yazidi girl's death at new court hearing
BERLIN (AP) — A German woman convicted on charges that she and her husband allowed the death by thirst of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl she and her husband kept as a slave when they were members of the Islamic State group in Iraq expressed remorse as a new sentencing hearing opened on Wednesday.
A federal court in March ordered judges in Munich to reconsider the sentence of the 32-year-old, who has been identified only as Jennifer W. in line with German privacy rules. She risks a more severe sentence than the 10 years she was given at her original trial.
The defendant was convicted in October 2021 of, among other things, two counts of crimes against humanity through enslavement, in one case resulting in death, being an accessory to attempted murder and membership in a terrorist organization abroad.
Prosecutors have accused her of standing by as her then husband chained the young Yazidi girl in a courtyard and left her to die of thirst. At her original trial, the court found that she did nothing to help the girl, although doing so would have been “possible and reasonable.”
The Federal Court of Justice found that judges erred in sentencing the defendant for a “less severe case” of crimes against humanity and overlooked aggravating circumstances. German law allows for a life sentence in cases where a defendant’s actions result in a person’s death.
As the new proceedings at the Munich state court opened on Wednesday, Jennifer W. said in a statement read out by a defense lawyer that she regrets what happened, German news agency dpa reported.
“I was rightly convicted,” the statement said, adding that she had “qualified or disputed” aspects of it in the original trial but no longer wants to do so. “I was also responsible for the death,” it added.
Eight court sessions have been scheduled for the new hearing, and a sentencing decision could come in late August.
Jennifer W. was taken into custody while trying to renew her identity papers at the German Embassy in Ankara in 2016 and deported to Germany.
Her former husband, an Iraqi citizen who was identified only as Taha Al-J., was convicted by a Frankfurt court in November 2021 of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and bodily harm resulting in death. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.