Erbil court: Yazidi woman accused of supporting ISIS acquitted

A woman abducted and raped by the Islamic State (ISIS), who was accused of supporting ISIS during an anti-Peshmerga operation, was acquitted by the Second Erbil Criminal Court in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Bassema Darwish, a 34-year-old mother of three from the Babira village in the province of Nineveh, was accused of causing the death of three Peshmerga fighters by helping ISIS emirs.

She was detained by Peshmerga forces in October 2014, and subsequently charged, under the expired Anti-Terrorism Law no. 3 of 2006, with supporting and assisting ISIS.

The incident led to criticism by human rights organizations that called for her release.

“The Kurdistan Regional Government’s justice system has stepped up in the face of injustice. Bassema Darwish, a Yezidi woman abducted and raped by ISIS, then detained by Peshmerga forces in October 2014 and charged with supporting and assisting her captors, was acquitted today after the authorities allowed her to be represented by a lawyer of her choosing,” said Belkis Wille, a senior Iraq researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“The justice system has found her to be a victim, not a criminal, and she should be allowed to go free as quickly as possible,” she said.

“The Free Yezidi Foundation is delighted by the judicial decision to release Bassema Darwish. We believe this is the right decision, and today justice was served. An innocent woman and a brave survivor will begin her journey to rebuild a new life,” said Pari Ibrahim, executive director of the Free Yezidi Foundation, who advocated for her case.

“We urged some KRG officials to make sure that Basima would have a fair trial and genuine legal defense, and we are glad that this occurred today. We regret that Basima was held and we are relieved by the decision to release her,” Ibrahim added.


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