A German court on Tuesday sentenced a former Islamic State follower to life behind bars for the brutal 2015 killing of a young Yazidi girl who was chained up and left to die slowly in the scorching hot sun.
The man, a 29-year-old Iraqi citizen identified only as Taha Al-J, was found guilty of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity for his role in the terror group’s slaughter of the Yazidi religious community in northern Iraq. According to Agence France-Presse, he passed out in the courtroom after the verdict came down.
The trial in Frankfurt marks the first genocide conviction in the world against a former member of the group for their attack on the Yazidis, a brutal campaign that began in 2014 and the United Nations said involved “killings, sexual slavery, enslavement, torture, forcible displacement, the transfer of children and measures intended to prohibit the birth of Yazidi children.”
Thousands of Yazidi women and children were enslaved and subjected to brutal rapes and beatings on a daily basis; thousands of men and boys also remain missing.
Taha Al-J’s 5-year-old victim was just one of several thousand young girls to be subjected to torture at the hands of ISIS. After buying the child and her mother in a “slave” market, the then-IS member became enraged that the 5-year-old had wet the bed and left her chained up under the sun as punishment, also depriving her of water.
The temperature reached 122 degrees Fahrenheit that day and the girl suffered a slow death. Her mother, Nora T., survived her time in IS captivity and testified against Al-J at the trial. She reportedly lives with her one remaining child—a son—in a secret location in Germany.
According to German news agency DPA, a defense lawyer for Al-J. had reportedly argued rather unconvincingly during the trial that the girl’s death was simply a “terrible accident, which he certainly did not want.”
The verdict against him and subsequent sentencing had been highly anticipated since German prosecutors tracked him down on Greek soil and arrested him in May 2019.
His wife, Jennifer W., was found guilty of the same crime and sentenced to 10 years in October.