Middle East

Iraq sentences French woman to life in prison for ISIS ties

Two Russian women were also handed life terms and six other women were condemned to death

An Iraqi court has sentenced a French national, Djamila Boutoutaou, to life in prison for joining Islamic State.

Boutoutaou traveled to Iraq from France with her husband. She said she believed she was going on holiday but “when I arrived in Turkey I discovered that my husband was a jihadist.”

Her husband was later killed near Mosul and her son died in the operation. She later surrendered to the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq, AFP reported her telling a Baghdad court.

Boutoutaou’s daughter could be repatriated to France, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told The Defense Post.

“Iraqi law allows minors to remain in detention with their parents until the age of three. But if her mother wishes so, and in the best interests of the child, Ms. Boutoutaou’s little girl might be brought back to France, with the agreement of the Iraqi authorities,” the MFA spokesperson said.

Boutoutaou is one of 180 foreign women who have been given lifetime prison sentences for belonging to ISIS, AFP reported on Wednesday, April 18.

In January, a group of French wives and children of ISIS fighers filed a legal complaint against the French authorities for refusing to repatriate them.

The French MFA said Boutoutaou has one month to appeal her sentence and could “ask the authorities of Iraq and France for her transfer in order to execute her sentence in France.” A member of the consular staff was present in the court audience and France is providing her with consular assistance.

Five women from Azerbaijan and a woman from Trinidad were sentenced to death, and two Russian women were also given life sentences during the hearing. The women’s names have not been made public and the respective foreign ministries did not reply to requests for additional details.


Update, April 23: Hikmat Hajiyev, a spokesperson for the Azerbaijan ministry of foreign affairs, told The Defense Post on April 23 that the ministry was not notified through official channels about the sentence.

“Via official channels we did not receive information about this death penalty so far,” Hajiyev said.

“In general, via official channels we have received information that there some Azerbaijani women in Iraq, whose connections with ISIS is currently investigated.”

Including children, about 100 people are being investigated, he said. The Azerbaijani government is providing consular support to them in cooperation with the Iraqi authorities.


According to AFP sources, Iraq has sentenced more than 300 people to death for joining ISIS. Iraqi law allows people to be convicted of helping the terrorist group even if they are not accused of violence during the years since ISIS overran Iraq.

Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul from ISIS in December after a nine-month battle. Since January, the Baghdad court dealing with foreigners and women has condemned 97 foreign nationals to death and 185 to life in prison. A second court in Tel Keif near Mosul has sentenced 212 people to death, 150 to life in prison and 341 to other tail terms, Supreme Judicial Court spokesperson Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar said.

Amnesty International said in a report this week that Iraqi women and children with perceived ties to ISIS have been denied humanitarian aid, prevented from returning home, and subjected to sexual violence while in camps for internally displaced persons across Iraq.

According to the watchdog report published on April 17, officials are also blocking these families from receiving identity cards and other documents needed to move freely. At least one camp has become a de facto detention center as families suspected of having ties to ISIS are prevented from leaving.

Earlier this month, the Baghdad court sentenced six Turkish women to death for ISIS membership and a seventh to life in prison. They had all joined their husbands in Iraq and Syria after 2014.

Since January, a German woman and another woman from Turkey have also been handed the death penalty, in rulings which Human Rights Watch has condemned as “unfair.”

Iraq did not officially notify Germany that one of its citizens was handed the death penalty, a diplomatic source told The Defense Post at the time. The woman, who is of Moroccan descent, joined ISIS in Iraq with her two daughters, who both married fighters, Bayraqdar said in January.


With reporting from AFP

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