German woman who joined ISIS jailed for war crimes after Yazidi 'slave' girl death

Jennifer Wenisch, 30, was jailed for 10 years

Jennifer Wenisch hides her face as she arrives in court in Munich, Germany. AP

A German woman who joined ISIS has been jailed for war crimes over the death of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl in Iraq.

The 10-year-jail term handed to Jennifer Wenisch, 30, is one of the first convictions anywhere in the world related to the persecution of the Yazidi community by ISIS.

Wenisch was found guilty of “two crimes against humanity in the form of enslavement”, aiding the girl's killing by failing to offer help and being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Wenisch, 30, and her ISIS husband “purchased” a Yazidi woman and child as household “slaves”, whom they held captive while living in ISIS-occupied Mosul, Iraq, in 2015, the court heard.

“After the girl fell ill and wet her mattress, the husband of the accused chained her up outside as punishment and let the child die an agonising death of thirst in the scorching heat,” prosecutors said during the trial.

“The accused allowed her husband to do so and did nothing to save the girl.”

Wenisch's husband Taha Al-Jumailly is also facing trial in separate proceedings in Frankfurt, where the verdict is due in late November.

The Yazidi girl's mother, identified only as Nora, gave evidence in both Munich and Frankfurt about the torment allegedly visited on her child.

The defence claimed the mother's evidence was untrustworthy and there was no proof that the girl, who was taken to hospital after the incident, actually died.

The child was “defenceless and helplessly exposed to the situation,” presiding judge Reinhold Baier of the Superior Regional Court in Munich said on Monday as he sentenced Wenisch, from Lohne in Lower Saxony.

Wenisch converted to Islam in 2013 and travelled the following year via Turkey and Syria to Iraq where she joined ISIS, German media have reported.

She was recruited in mid-2015 to the group's hisbah morality police and she patrolled city parks in ISIS-occupied Fallujah and Mosul armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a pistol and an explosives vest.

Her task was to ensure people followed the strict ISIS rules on dress code, public behaviour and bans on alcohol and tobacco.

In January 2016, she visited the German embassy in Ankara to apply for new identity papers. When she left the mission, she was arrested and extradited days later to Germany.

Wenisch's trial, which began in April 2019, is one of the first examples of court proceedings over the terrorist group's brutal treatment of Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking group from northern Iraq that ISIS specifically persecuted and oppressed.

Prominent London-based human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who has been involved in a campaign for ISIS crimes against the Yazidi to be recognised as a “genocide”, was part of the team representing the Yazidi girl's mother.

Germany has charged several German and foreign nationals with war crimes and crimes against humanity carried out abroad, using the legal principle of universal jurisdiction that allows crimes to be prosecuted even if they were committed in a foreign country.

Updated: October 25, 2021, 12:10 PM