Judged as belonging to the Islamic State, a 58-year-old Frenchman and a German woman were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Central Criminal Court in Baghdad, a sentence equivalent to 20 years. This length of imprisonment is regularly imposed on Westerners who have joined the jihadist group.
During the hearing, 58 year-old Lahcen Gueboudj denied all statements obtained during interrogations cited by the judge. He claimed to have “signed confessions in Arabic without knowing what was written.” The court found him guilty of pledging allegiance to IS and following training led by the jihadist group.
Gueboudj, from southern France, said he had gone with his wife and children to Turkey and Syria. “I would never have left France if my eldest son Nabil, 25, had not gone to Syria,” he said. “I wanted to convince him to return with us to France,” he added. He introduced himself as “a civilian in Rakka and then for seven months in Mayadine,” two major IS strongholds in Syria, whose jihadists have now been driven out.
The judge showed Gueboudj a picture of himself with a long white beard at the time of his arrest. He said he recognized himself, but could not specify the place of his arrest. He said he had never travelled to Iraq but was arrested by the Free Syrian Army after “getting lost near a village” in Syria and being subsequently taken away by members of the armed forces in Iraq.