A citizen of Germany, facing trial for ‘war crimes’ and the murder of a Yazidi girl she had enslaved, was found guilty of the charge of ‘letting the girl die of thirst’ and was sentenced on Monday by a Munich court.
While Jennifer Wenisch, former member of the Islamic State (ISIS), was given a 10-year prison sentence, the prosecutors had asked for life imprisonment, saying ‘the husband of the accused chained the victim up outside as punishment after she fell ill and wet her mattress’ and she was ‘left to die an agonising death of thirst in the scorching heat.’
Wenisch said she was “afraid” that her husband would “push her or lock her up” if she intervened to save the girl.
The girl’s mother, Nora T., had continued to be held captive by the couple after her daughter died. She testified at the trial of the torture inflicted on her child.
The prosecutors indicated that Wenisch and her husband “purchased” a Yazidi woman and her five-year old child as household ‘slaves’ in Mosul in 2015. Wenisch’s husband, Taha al-Jumailly, is also facing a separate trial in Frankfurt with a verdict due in late November.
The trial of Jennifer Wenisch and her husband signifies a landmark case, one of the first trials in the world to prosecute a ‘war crime’ against the Yazidis, a Kurdish people persecuted and enslaved by jihadists in Iraq and in Syria.
An estimated 10,000 Yazidi people were killed in northern Iraq in mass atrocities, recognised by the United Nations and many states as ‘genocide.’ About 7,000 Yazidi women and girls, some very young, were enslaved and forcibly transferred to locations in Iraq and eastern Syria.
Wenisch was arrested in Turkey’s capital Ankara in January 2016, and then extradited to Germany.
However, she was not taken into custody until June 2018, when she was arrested while trying to reach the territories that IS still controlled in Syria with her two-year-old daughter. During the journey, she told her driver about her life in Iraq. The latter was actually an FBI informant who drove her in a car equipped with microphones. The prosecution used these tapes to indict her.
Whilst thousands of people have reportedly travelled across Turkey to join ISIS, only a few have been detained or faced trial, or been extradited.