INTERNATIONAL

Iraqi court sentences French woman to life for IS membership

Melina Boughedir with her son in Baghdad.AFPSTRINGER  

An Iraqi court on Sunday sentenced a French woman to life in jail for membership of the Islamic State (IS) group as her lawyers accused authorities in Paris of “interference” to prevent her return to France.

Melina Boughedir, a mother of four, 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 another court ordered the re-trial of the 27-year-old French citizen under Iraq’s anti-terrorism law and on Sunday she was found guilty of belonging to IS.

“I am innocent,” Boughedir told the judge in French. “My husband duped me and then threatened to leave with the children” unless she followed him to Iraq, where he planned on joining IS, she said.

“I am opposed to the ideology of the Islamist group and condemn the actions of my husband,” she added.

Her Iraqi lawyer, Nasureddin Madlul Abd, urged the court to acquit Boughedir, describing her spouse as a “jailkeeper not a husband” who had “forced” her to join him in Iraq.

Defence team to appeal

Her French defence team — William Bourdon, Martin Pradel and Vincent Brengarth — said they were “relieved” she had been spared the death penalty, but vowed to appeal the verdict.

Boughedir is the second French citizen sentenced to life in prison by an Iraqi court for belonging to IS, after Djamila Boutoutaou, 29, in April. Boutoutaou also said she had been tricked by her husband.