Germany’s highest court on Thursday ordered a new sentencing hearing for a German ISIS member who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in the death of a five-year-old Yazidi slave.
Jennifer Wenisch, originally from Lohne in Lower Saxony, joined ISIS in Iraq and allowed the young woman to die of thirst after being chained to the sun for bedwetting.
She and her husband, an ISIS fighter, had bought the young Yazidi woman and her mother as house slaves.
The initial sentence that saw her imprisoned for 10 years in 2021 was deemed too lenient by the German prosecutor. The 31-year-old defendant now risks receiving a higher sentence.
She was previously sentenced for war crimes, crimes against humanity and bodily harm resulting in death.
Defendant Jennifer Wenisch arrives in the courtroom for her trial in Munich, on October 25, 2021.
Jennifer Wenisch, originally from Lohne in Lower Saxony, joined ISIS in Iraq and allowed the young woman to die of thirst after being chained to the sun.
Germany’s Federal Court of Justice dismissed an appeal by the woman, whom the court only identified as Jennifer W. in accordance with the nation’s privacy rules, but partially approved an appeal by prosecutors.
The court reversed the ruling on Thursday, though not the rest of the verdict, and returned the case to the Munich state court for a new decision.
The woman was convicted in October 2021 of, among other things, two counts of crimes against humanity through slavery, in one case resulting in death, being an accessory to an attempted murder, and belonging to a terrorist organization abroad. .
The federal court found that the Munich judges erred in sentencing the woman for a “less serious case” of crimes against humanity and ignored aggravating circumstances.
German law allows life imprisonment in cases where a defendant’s actions result in the death of a person.
At the trial in Munich, prosecutors accused the woman of standing by while her then-husband chained the young Yazidi girl in a courtyard and left her to die of thirst. The court found that she did nothing to help the girl, although doing so would have been ‘possible and reasonable’.
She was detained while trying to renew her identity documents at the German Embassy in Ankara in 2016 and deported to Germany.
Her ex-husband, an Iraqi citizen who was identified only as Taha Al-J., was convicted by a Frankfurt court in November 2021 of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and bodily harm resulting in death. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
The girl’s mother, who survived captivity, testified in both trials.
The German ISIS member originally received 10 years in prison in 2021 for his part in the death of a five-year-old Yazidi slave.
German law allows life imprisonment in cases where a defendant’s actions result in the death of a person
After her conversion to Islam, Wenisch was recruited by the terrorist organization in mid-2015 for the group’s self-described hisbah morality police. She patrolled parks in the Islamic State-occupied cities of Fallujah and Mosul, armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a pistol and an explosive vest.
The group tasked him with ensuring strict IS rules on dress code, public behavior, and prohibitions on alcohol and tobacco.
In January 2016, he visited the German embassy in Ankara to request new identity documents. When she left the mission, she was arrested and extradited days later to Germany.
Wenisch’s initial trial began in April 2019 and is one of the first examples of legal proceedings for the Islamic State group’s brutal treatment of Yazidis.
The Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking group from northern Iraq, have been specifically targeted and oppressed by jihadists beginning in 2015.
London-based human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who was involved in a campaign to have ISIS crimes against the Yazidi community recognized as “genocide”, was part of the team representing the Yazidi girl’s mother.
Germany has charged a number of German and foreign citizens with war crimes and crimes against humanity committed abroad, using the legal principle of universal jurisdiction that allows crimes to be prosecuted even if they were committed in a foreign country.