France, Iraq to discuss framework for putting militants on trial

A volunteer attending an orphaned child reportedly linked with Daesh fighters in Syrian Ain Issa town. (File/AFP)
Updated 16 October 2019

France, Iraq to discuss framework for putting militants on trial

  • The FM didn’t specify when he would visit Baghdad
  • Eight French citizens were sentenced to death in Iraq but none of the executions were carried out

PARIS: French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Wednesday said he would discuss a judicial framework for putting militants on trial during an upcoming visit to Iraq, as calls grow for an international court to judge the extremists.
“We need to work things out with the Iraqi authorities so that we can find a way to have a judicial mechanism that is able to judge all these fighters, including obviously the French fighters,” he told BFM-TV, without specifying when he would go to Baghdad.
Seven European countries — France, Britain, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and Denmark — have during the last months been discussing setting up an international court in Iraq for putting foreign Daesh militants on trial.
Officials from all seven countries took part in a technical mission to Baghdad to assess the situation.
In a joint statement they said they had learned from the Iraqi authorities about “the daunting task they are facing in bringing Daesh to justice and rebuilding the society.”
A major issue will be Iraq’s use of the death penalty, which is outlawed throughout the EU.
Hundreds of foreigners have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment in Iraq for belonging to the Daesh group.
A dozen French militants held by Kurdish forces in northern Syria were already handed over to the Iraqi authorities at the end of the January to be put on trial although Le Drian said further transfers were not planned at the moment.
Eight French citizens have been sentenced to death in Iraq but none of the executions have been carried out.
The technical mission said it had reiterated its opposition to the death penalty “in all places and in all circumstances” to the Iraqi authorities.
There have been concerns that the controversial Turkish offensive in northern Syria targeting Kurdish forces could lead to a mass prison outbreak of militants captured by the Kurds.
But Le Drian said the security of Kurdish-run prisons holding suspected militia in northern Syria was “currently” not threatened by the Turkish military operation.
“To my knowledge, the Turkish offensive and the positioning of the SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) have so far not led to the safety and security of these camps... currently being threatened,” he said.
Turkey on Monday accused Kurdish forces of deliberately releasing Daesh prisoners held at a prison in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad “in an attempt to fuel chaos in the area.”
Kurdish officials, for their part, claimed that Turkish bombardments had allowed nearly 800 relatives of foreign Daesh fighters escape from a camp for the displaced.


Wife of White Helmets co-founder Le Mesurier banned from leaving Turkey

Updated 14 November 2019

Wife of White Helmets co-founder Le Mesurier banned from leaving Turkey

  • Winberg will not be allowed to leave the country, as long as the investigation into her husband’s death continues
  • The preliminary autopsy reports suggest suicide was the most likely cause of death, with the final report set to be completed next week

ISTANBUL: Turkey has imposed a travel ban on Emma Winberg, the wife of James Le Mesurier, founder of the Mayday Rescue Foundation, who was found dead in Istanbul on Monday.
Speculation abounds over the circumstances of Le Mesurier’s death, with questions over whether the former British intelligence officer was murdered or committed suicide.
Though Turkish police sources believe Le Mesurier jumped to his death from his flat, his wife, 39, has not been allowed to return home because of Turkish law.
Le Mesurier had reportedly told his wife of suicidal thoughts two weeks before the incident. His wife notified the police that he was in a deteriorating psychological state and taking anti-depressants and medication for stress. His hospital records are also being examined.
Umur Yildirim, an attorney specialized in criminal justice, said that according to Turkish law, it was possible for Turkish authorities to impose a travel ban on people not of Turkish nationality of importance to an open investigation.  
Winberg will not be allowed to leave the country, as long as the investigation into her husband’s death continues.
Based on reports, Le Mesurier’s residence was only accessible via fingerprint, and in testimony released by Turkish authorities, Winberg claimed the pair had taken sleeping pills at around 4 a.m.the night before. She was woken by police after they were notified of a body lying outside the building.
The preliminary autopsy reports suggest suicide was the most likely cause of death, with the final report set to be completed next week. The investigation continues.
Le Mesurier was awarded an Order of the British Empire (OBE) by the UK government in 2016.