From file: Wives of Islamic State (IS) fighters are seen waiting next to their belongings upon their deportation from the al-Hol camp for refugees in Syria | Photo: Ahmed Mardnli/EPA
From file: Wives of Islamic State (IS) fighters are seen waiting next to their belongings upon their deportation from the al-Hol camp for refugees in Syria | Photo: Ahmed Mardnli/EPA

Legal proceedings began in Germany and Spain on Wednesday against suspected former members of IS. In Spain, two women repatriated from Syria after marrying IS members were remanded in custody on terror-related charges. In Germany, a woman accused of being an IS-member went on trial in Koblenz.

In Germany on Wednesday, the highest court in the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, the Oberlandesgericht in Koblenz, began the trial of a woman accused of keeping a Yazidi woman as a slave as well as committing other IS-related crimes.

The German press agency dpa reported that the state prosecutor accused the woman of committing crimes against humanity, being a party to genocide, getting involved in war crimes and committing violations of the war weapons control act.

The 37-year-old suspect had been living in Idar-Oberstein, and has not yet spoken in court about the charges brought against her. According to the state prosecutor, the woman became radicalized while she was studying in the neighboring German state of North Rhine Westphalia (NRW).

Radicalized in Germany

While studying, the woman is believed to have met a Syrian doctor who later became her husband. In 2014, the two traveled to Syria, according to the charges brought against her, in order, the authorities believe, to join the so-called Islamic State (IS) organization.

In 2015, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that the couple were believed to have moved to Mosul in Iraq. The husband is believed to have worked for IS as a doctor, helping to treat IS fighters. The female suspect is believed to have run their house and educated their two daughters.

Prosecutors believe the couple allowed single IS women to stay in that house and allege that the couple also hid large amounts of explosives and weapons there, including hand grenades and Kalishnikovs.

In 2016, according to prosecutors, the husband introduced a Yazidi slave to the house, who at the time was 22 years old. According to court documents, the 22-year-old had been captured by IS in 2014 already when IS invaded her home village and took the women as maids and sex slaves for various IS members.

Accused of keeping a Yazidi slave

The court believes that the young woman was forced to cook and clean for the couple and to look after their two children. The husband is believed to have regularly raped and hit the Yazidi woman - in full knowledge of his wife.

The female suspect is believed to have made sure that the Yazidi woman could not escape the house. Furthermore, the Yazidi woman was also forced to pray every day using Islamic rituals, with the aim, according to dpa, of erasing her own religious beliefs.

In 2019, the family were captured by Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Baghuz during an alleged attempt to flee. The female suspect currently on trial was then put into a Kurdish prison with her two daughters.

In March 2022, the woman and her two daughters, along with other suspected IS-members and 27 of their children, were brought to Germany. The suspect and three other women were taken into custody as they landed in Frankfurt airport.

Awaiting trial

Since then, the suspect has been in prison awaiting trial. According to state prosecutors, her two daughters are in care together in Germany.

Meanwhile the Yazidi woman whom the couple are believed to have enslaved still suffers from the alleged abuse she endured. She is back living with her family in Iraq, but is expected to appear as a witness in the trial in February. At least 20 witnesses are expected to testify against the couple.

From file: Nadia Murad was a victim of the Islamic State's attack on Yazidis, but she managed to escape | Photo: Picture Alliance / abacapres / D. Van Tine
From file: Nadia Murad was a victim of the Islamic State's attack on Yazidis, but she managed to escape | Photo: Picture Alliance / abacapres / D. Van Tine

Flown back to Spain

Meanwhile in Spain, two women who are accused of having married IS fighters, were remanded in custody on Wednesday, January 11, on terror-related charges, as reported by the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).

They had arrived back in Spain with 13 children, flown back from where they had been held in Kurdish controlled detention camps in the town of Roj in northern Syria.

The two women will be held in pre-trial detention without bail, and are accused of joining the IS terror group. The judge in Spain's top criminal court, Audiencia National, concluded that the two women posed a "concrete flight risk given the serious charges against them," as well as an "obvious" risk of reoffending, reported AFP.

He has not, however, suspended their parental rights, saying that because they were in prison, there was "no potential risk of them continuing the possible indoctrination of their children." At the moment, their children are reportedly being cared for by Madrid's social services.

According to the Spanish newspaper El Pais, which ran interviews with both women in 2019, one of the women identified as 37-year-old Yolanda MC had four children and another woman identified as 34-year-old Luna FG had five children.

The other four of the total group of 13 children, who arrived along with the two women, are reported to be orphans with Spanish grandparents, who Luna FG had been caring for in the detention camp.

Recruitment in Spain

The Spanish judge said that the women and their husbands had already been investigated in 2014, accused of being part of the terrorist Al Andalus Brigade. According to AFP, the brigade was set up in Spain to radicalize and recruit volunteers, as well as to help them with travel to Syria and Iraq to join fighting.

The judge accused the women of having "participated in activities supporting Daesh [IS] both before and after moving out to the Syrian-Iraqi conflict zone with their husbands in mid-2014." Once they had left Spain, the authorities lost track of them until they were interviewed by El Pais in 2019, reported AFP.

In that interview, it is reported that the two women tried to distance themselves from their IS involvement. But according AFP, Yolanda MC explained that she had been given a house and that her husband had worked for the IS courts.

Her words "gave her away because only members would be given a house and a job in the administration," the judge pronounced.

'Unwavering commitment to Daesh'

The fact that the woman had remained in the area also demonstrated, according to the judge, "her and her husband’s unwavering commitment to Daesh."

Another Spanish newspaper, El Mundo, meanwhile reported that Luna FG is a widow but that Yolanda MC's husband is still alive and in jail in Syria.

A third woman, named as Lubna M and reported to have been resident in Spain's North African exclave Ceuta, was also meant to be repatriated to Spain with the two women, but the authorities were reportedly unable to locate her at the time of repatriation, reported AFP.

According to the United Nations, conditions inside the Roj camp where the women had been held are "almost inhuman and extremely challenging." The UN and the US governments have been pressing more European countries to repatriate their nationals from the detention camps in Syria, and - where necessary - put them on trial on their return.

With AFP, dpa


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