Baghdad (AFP) – Melina Boughedir, a French citizen, was put on trial in Baghdad on Wednesday over terrorism charges for allegedly joining the Islamic State group in Iraq.
The 27-year-old mother of four faces the death penalty over her alleged membership of the jihadist organisation.
Arrested in the summer of 2017 in Mosul, IS’s former capital in Iraq, Boughedir was sentenced last February to seven months in prison for “illegal” entry into the country and was set to be deported back to France.
But upon re-examining her file, an Iraqi court found that Boughedir knew her husband planned on joining IS in Iraq and that she “knowingly” followed him, a judicial source said.
On the first day of her new trial Wednesday, the judge asked Boughedir if she knew where her husband was.
“One day he went to get water and he disappeared, I don’t know anything about it,” she said.
When asked if she believed in IS’s ideology, she said: “Not at all. This is the case for many foreign women married to Daesh men,” using an Arabic acronym to refer to the jihadists.
The judge showed Boughedir a series of photos, in one of which she appeared, asking whether she recognised various people.
“For someone who claims to have been forced to come to Iraq because your husband was threatening to take your children, you look very relaxed,” the judge said, referring to the picture.
“I was at home and the picture was taken by my husband,” Boughedir said.
The next hearing is set for June 3 at the request of Boughedir’s new attorney, an Iraqi chosen by the family.
Last month, an Iraqi court sentenced another French women, Djamila Boutoutaou, to life in prison for belonging to IS despite her pleas that she had been duped by her husband.
Since the beginning of the year, Baghdad courts have sentenced more than 280 foreign jihadists to death or to life in prison, according to a judicial source.