The IS returnee Jennifer W. watched idly while her husband let an enslaved Yazidi girl die in the Iraqi midday heat – she now faces a harsher sentence for this. The Higher Regional Court (OLG) Munich had sentenced the woman from Lower Saxony to ten years in prison in October 2021.

The Federal Court of Justice (BGH) partially overturned this judgment. There are far-reaching legal concerns that the Higher Regional Court has accepted a less serious case, said the presiding judge, Jürgen Schäfer, at the verdict in Karlsruhe.

Another criminal division of the Munich court must now decide again on the amount of the penalty. The revision of the federal prosecutor’s office was successful. In the remaining points, the verdict against the 31-year-old is now final. She too had appealed. This was rejected by the highest criminal judges of the BGH as “obviously unfounded”.

The German woman from Lohne joined the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia at the age of 23. She got married in Syria before an IS court. At the time, the jihadists had conquered large areas in eastern Syria and Iraq.

Her ex-husband received life imprisonment

W.’s Iraqi ex-husband, who chained the five-year-old to a grate in the yard, was sentenced to life imprisonment in a separate trial in Frankfurt/Main, also for genocide. The BGH has already confirmed this judgment. The man had bought the girl and her mother as slaves after both had been kidnapped by the Islamic State (IS) terrorist militia.

The little girl died on a day in August 2015 when temperatures peaked at more than 50 degrees in the shade in the Iraqi city of Fallujah. The man wanted to punish the sick child for wetting himself on a mattress. To do this, he tied her to a window grille in the blazing sun with her hands at head height so that her feet hung in the air. By the time he untied the girl, she had suffered fatal heat stroke.

When the verdict was announced at the Higher Regional Court, the presiding judge, Joachim Baier, said that the accused “had to reckon with the fact that the child who was tied up in the heat of the sun was in mortal danger.” However, she did not intervene.

The Munich judges had imposed two individual sentences: Because of membership in the IS, Jennifer W. received two and a half years in prison and then another nine years, among other things, for crimes against humanity through enslavement resulting in death. A total of ten years’ imprisonment was formed from these two sentences.

BGH criticism of the judgment of the Higher Regional Court

The BGH’s objections relate exclusively to the second individual penalty. The Higher Regional Court should not have accepted a less serious case here. Without this limitation, a minimum of ten years or life imprisonment shall be imposed for slavery resulting in death.

Schäfer described it as “at least questionable” that the Higher Regional Court disregarded the inhuman motives and goals of the accused. She knew and approved of the Islamic State terrorist militia’s intention to destroy the Yazidis as a religious group.

Among other things, he recalled that mother and daughter in the household had to follow Islamic prayer rites. The child could only be addressed by a new Muslim name. With her complaints, Jennifer W. contributed to the fact that both were regularly abused by her then husband. When the woman cried for her dead daughter, W. held a pistol to her head and threatened to shoot her if she didn’t stop.

Yazidis are Kurds from Iraq, Syria, Turkey and Iran. They form a religious minority. In 2014, IS overran the region around the Sinjar Mountains in northern Iraq. The jihadists killed more than 5,000 members of this religious community. Women and girls were abducted, enslaved and raped. The Bundestag recognized the crimes as genocide in January.