Paris (CNSNews.com) – Dozens of lawyers here are demanding the French government intervene after an Iraqi court sentenced to death two more French jihadists after a trial that reportedly lasted half an hour.
Forty-four lawyers put their name to a statement criticizing the actions of the Anti-Terrorist Court in Baghdad and calling for action by President Emmanuel Macron’s government.
Macron has asked Iraq to commute the death sentences to life imprisonment.
A total of 11 French citizens who traveled to the Middle East to join ISIS’ jihad have now been sentenced to hang in Iraq, and two more are expected to be convicted and sentenced shortly.
Nabil Boudi, a lawyer who represents three of the men, said by phone all had been accused of belonging to a terrorist organization, a capital crime in Iraq.
The lawyers describe Iraqi justice, particularly that meted out by the Anti-Terrorist Court, as arbitrary and “not true justice,” noting the speed of the trial.
Boudi said the latest trial had lasted 30 minutes, with the deliberation of the verdict taking just four minutes.
“The investigation lasted three months while in France it would have taken at least three years,” he said. “No lawyer, including me, had any access to the accused’s files and appointed [defense] lawyers were named a few minutes before the trial.”
Lawyer Henri Leclerc, honorary president of the League of Human Rights, pointed out that France is not only opposed to the death penalty but advocates around the world for its abolition.
Even an association that represents the victims of terrorism in France says it does support the sentencing to death of the jihadists.
“What the victims experienced is so violent that they do not want this even for their worst enemies,” said the group’s president, Guillaume Denoix de Saint-Marc.
He said the victims instead hoped the jihadists would be interrogated in France or another country, as they could provide “part of the answers” with regard to terrorist acts that took place on French soil.
Boudi conceded that public opinion in France is opposed to the jihadists being returned to face trial at home, and said in the face of that opposition the government “doesn't have the courage to bring them back.”
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers last week that the government “respects the judicial sovereignty of Iraq,” but added that it is working to ensure that the death penalty is not applied.
Boudi said that once the trials are completed the lawyers plan to appeal the decisions. They will try to meet with their clients and challenge the death sentences in court.
Although sentences should not be carried out during an appeal, he expressed concern that in Iraq that may not be the case.
“I have no guarantee that the sentence won't be executed in spite of its suspension pending the appeal,” he said. “I don’t trust the judicial system in Iraq.”
In their statement the lawyers criticized the government for opposing the repatriation of the jihadists.
Up to now, the government has ruled out repatriation, preferring them to be tried in Iraq for their ISIS activities.
An estimated 1,700 French radicals joined jihadist groups in Syria and Iraq from 2014 onwards, and authorities believe up to 450 were killed. Interior Secretary Laurent Nunez said earlier this year almost 300 others have returned home and had their cases dealt with in national courts.