Iraq to deport suspected French militant who served sentence

In this Jan. 27, 2018, photo, U.S. Army soldiers speak to families in rural Anbar on a reconnaissance patrol near a coalition outpost in western Iraq. (AP)
Updated 19 February 2018
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Iraq to deport suspected French militant who served sentence

BAGHDAD: An Iraqi court ordered the release and deportation of a suspected French militant sentenced on Monday to seven months in prison for entering the country illegally, saying she had already served her time.
Melina Bougedir, 27, was arrested last summer in former Daesh stronghold Mosul with her four children, three of whom have been repatriated to France.
Wearing a black dress and purple headscarf, she entered the courtroom holding her other child, a boy with blond hair.
Speaking in Arabic, she said that she had been a housewife in Mosul.
“I entered Syria with my French passport but Daesh took it from me. I stayed in Syria for four days and then came to Mosul with my husband and four children.”
She said that her French husband Maximilien, whom she said had been a cook for Daesh, was killed as Iraqi forces battled to oust the militant group from Mosul, which was recaptured last July. Asked her if she regretted what she did, she replied: “Yes.”
Iraq in December declared victory against Daesh after a years-long battle to retake large swathes of territory the extremists had seized in 2014.
An Iraqi court last month condemned a German woman to death by hanging after finding her guilty of belonging to Daesh, the first such sentence in a case involving a European woman.
Soon afterwards, lawyers for Bougedir and another French woman awaiting trial in Iraq for allegedly joining Daesh wrote to French President Emmanuel Macron warning that they could face the death penalty.
Several dozen French citizens suspected of links to the militant group are believed to be in detention camps or prisons in Syria and Iraq.
French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said in Baghdad last week that suspected militants should be tried in the countries where they committed their “crimes,” while reiterating France’s opposition to the death penalty.
Britain has also taken a firm stance against repatriation, as has Belgium which denied a request by one of its nationals to be sent home from Iraq in exchange for cooperating with the authorities.
Several hundred foreigners, both men and women, are thought to have been detained in Iraq for alleged links to Daesh.
In December, a Swedish man of Iraqi origin was among 38 people executed after being convicted of “terrorism.”
And on Sunday, an Iraqi court sentenced a Turkish woman to death and 11 other foreign widows to life in jail for belonging to Daesh, despite their pleas that they had been duped or forced by their husbands to join them in Iraq.


Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

Updated 34 min 23 sec ago

Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

  • Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies
  • Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies

ALGIERS: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Algerian capital on Friday in defiance of a heavy security presence to demand the ouster of the country's army chief.
Demonstrators gathered near the capital's main post office square, the epicentre of Algeria's protest movement that forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April, this time calling for the ouster of General Ahmed Gaid Salah.
"The people want the fall of Gaid Salah," the strongman in post-Bouteflika Algeria, they chanted. "Take us all to prison, the people will not stop."
Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies, but protesters faced a heavy deployment of security forces in the city centre and along its main avenues.
Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies.
The tougher line on protests came just days after interim president Abdelkader Bensalah announced a December 12 date for a presidential election to fill the vacuum left by Bouteflika's departure.
The army chief has led the push for polls by the end of 2019, despite mass protests demanding political reforms and the removal of the former president's loyalists -- including Gaid Salah himself -- before any vote.
In the runup to the latest rally, as on previous Fridays, police made several arrests near the square, AFP photographers said.
Police stopped vehicles on main streets in the capital and an AFP journalist saw officers in plainclothes ask for identity papers, before some were led off to nearby vans.
As a police helicopter scoured the skies, security forces also stopped cars headed towards the city centre from its southwest entrance, where a dozen anti-riot police vans were stationed.
Said Salhi, deputy head of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, condemned the heightened security measures as "illegal".
Demonstrations have officially been banned in Algiers since 2001 but the prohibition had been ignored since rallies started on February 22 against the ailing Bouteflika's bid for a fifth presidential term.