An Iraqi court sentenced on Tuesday two more French members of the Islamic State (IS) group to death, bringing the total number of French former jihadis condemned to death this week to six.
The men were identified as Karam El-Harchaoui and Brahim Nejara. They are among a group of 12 French citizens who were detained by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in neighbouring Syria and handed over to Iraq in January.
The Kurdish-led group spearheaded the fight against the IS group in Syria and has handed over to Iraq hundreds of suspected IS group members in recent months.
France’s foreign minister said earlier Tuesday that his government is working to spare the group of condemned Frenchmen from execution after Iraq sentenced them to death though France has made no effort to bring back captured French IS group fighters.
Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian also reiterated France’s position but said the IS group militants should be tried where they committed their crimes.
“We are multiplying efforts to avoid the death penalty for these ... French people,” he said on France-Inter radio. He didn’t elaborate, but said he spoke to Iraq’s president about the case.
France is outspoken against the death penalty globally. The sentencings in Iraq come amid a controversy about the legal treatment of thousands of foreign fighters who joined the IS group in Syria and Iraq.
The sentenced men have 30 days to appeal.
Evidence obtained by torture
The trials have been criticised by rights groups, which say they often rely on evidence obtained through torture.
They have also raised the question of whether suspected IS group jihadists should be tried in the region or repatriated, in the face of strong public opposition at home.
France has long insisted that its adult citizens captured in Iraq or Syria must face trial locally, refusing to repatriate them despite the risk they face capital punishment for waging their jihadist war in the region.
The Iraqi judiciary said earlier in May that it has tried and sentenced more than 500 suspected foreign members of the IS group since the start of 2018.
Its courts have condemned many to life in prison and others to death, although no foreign IS group members have yet been executed.