French jihadist sentenced in Iraq: the flash trial of Djamila Boutoutaou


His head, covered with a brown veil, barely exceeds the wooden cage in the center of the court. With arms crossed in the back, dressed in the regulation pink tunic of the detainees, Djamila Boutoutaou faces the three judges of the central criminal court number 1 in Baghdad. A few minutes earlier, the 28-year-old Northman, who owes her membership in the Islamic State (IS) terrorist organization, was extracted from the jail where all the women who are due to appear on Tuesday morning are waiting of their trial. Before entering this room without soul, covered with beige carpet and lit by neon lights, the defendants wait head down, lined up in a corridor, face turned to the wall. Several of them, including two Russian nationals, hold a child in their arms. Some infants, pacifier in the mouth, are only a few weeks old. Djamila left her 2-year-old daughter in the care of prison guards in Baghdad where she landed after being captured in the vicinity of Mosul in September 2017 and then in a transit camp. Behind her rectangular glasses and her thin face, one can feel the anguish that grips her. Accused of terrorist crime, she faces the death penalty. Recognized guilty, it will finally receive a sentence that once meant life but since a reform of the penal code, in fact corresponds to 20 years in prison. Expeditious justice Since the beginning of the morning, hearings are linked at an extremely high pace. The Iraqi antiterrorist justice, criticized for its expeditious logic, runs full blast to punish the men and women suspected of having joined Daesh, whose crimes have bloodied the country. Capital or life sentences are distributed at breakneck speed. Fluent in Arabic, Djamila does not want the assistance of a translator. On the other hand, she relies on the assistance of her lawyer, Mr Martin Pradel of the Paris Bar. The name of the criminalist resonates in the corridors of the court without it evidently does not appear. “I only learned in the morning that my client had finally benefited from a consular visit Sunday, said Mr. Pradel, contacted by telephone in France. It has been several months since the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told me that he has no news of Jamila. I could not go to Baghdad without a standardized framework. What happened this morning is obviously not acceptable. ” READ ALSO> French jihadists sentenced to death: how France can intervene The deputy court eventually gave the young woman a court-appointed lawyer. He will both discover his client and the file at the hearing. While the trial began a few minutes ago, two agents of the French Embassy settled on the benches in skaï of the public. Speaking with ultra-fast speed, the president of the court, a man with graying hair that alternates vindictive and sententious tirades and more kind words, recalls that Djamila is accused of joining the ranks of Daesh with his husband and their two children in January 2016. Little will be learned about the details of the charges since this hearing serves more to sentence than to hear the case. A two-minute speech Combative, the French assures to have been fooled by her husband, a former rapper of Algerian radicalized origin. “We came to Istanbul on vacation, and it was when I arrived in Turkey that I discovered that my husband was a jihadist,” she says. The mother says she was beaten by her husband, then sequestered in a cellar, before ending up on the other side of the border in Syria, then in Iraq. “It’s my husband who forced me,” she swears in front of magistrates obviously dubious. Her voice, however strong, breaks when she talks about the bombing of June 2017 that took away her eldest son of 5 years. A month later, she will learn of the death of her husband which she does not dispute the commitment within the IS. “During the ten months I spent in Iraq, I did not see my husband who was spending time outside the house,” describes the one who introduced herself as “stay-at-home mother.” Our special envoy to Baghdad tells The prosecutor, dumb since the beginning of the hearing, gets up to whisper his requisitions. Thirty seconds inaudible: her voice is so weak that she struggles to cover the sound of the air conditioning and fan blowing at the foot of his platform. Then place the public defender who, in two minutes, pleads clemency but does not really have the opportunity to deepen the defense of a file whose he knows the ins and outs. The hearing lasted 25 minutes. An incredibly short duration for an issue as important but relatively long compared to the trials that preceded it. After a short deliberate, without the magistrates or the public leave the room, Djamila finds himself again in the cage too big for his size. The penalty falls, Djamila remains impassive.


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