BERLIN (AP) — A German appeals court on Thursday ordered a new sentencing hearing for a German convert to Islam who was given 10 years in prison on charges that, as a member of the Islamic State group in Iraq, she allowed a 5-year-old Yazidi girl she and her husband kept as a slave to die of thirst in the sun.
The 31-year-old defendant now risks a higher sentence.
The Federal Court of Justice threw out an appeal by the woman, who has been identified only as Jennifer W. in line with German privacy rules, but partly approved an appeal by prosecutors. It overturned the sentence, though not the rest of the verdict, and sent the case back 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 enslavement, in one case resulting in death, being an accessory to attempted murder and membership in a terrorist organization abroad.
The federal court found that Munich judges erred in sentencing the woman for a “less severe case” of crimes against humanity and overlooked aggravating circumstances. German law allows for a life sentence in cases where a defendant’s actions result in a person’s death.
At the trial in Munich, prosecutors accused the woman of standing by as 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 taken into custody while trying to renew her identity papers at the German Embassy in Ankara in 2016, and deported to Germany.
Her former 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 at both trials.