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Iraq court sentences two French men to death for being Daesh fighters

French nationals (from top left to bottom right) Salim Machou, Mustapha Merzoughi, Brahim Nejara, Kevin Gonot, Yassine Sakkam and Leonard Lopez, all sentenced by a Baghdad court to death for joining the Islamic State group, on 29 May 2019 [AFP/Getty Image]
French nationals (from top left to bottom right) Salim Machou, Mustapha Merzoughi, Brahim Nejara, Kevin Gonot, Yassine Sakkam and Leonard Lopez, all sentenced by a Baghdad court to death for joining the Islamic State group, on 29 May 2019 [AFP/Getty Image]

An Iraqi court sentenced two French men to death on Sunday after finding them guilty of being members of Daesh, a prosecutor told Reuters.

Iraq is conducting trials of thousands of suspected Daesh fighters, including hundreds of foreigners, with many arrested as the group’s strongholds crumbled.

President Emmanuel Macron’s government has said France respects Iraqi sovereignty, but opposes the death penalty.

Sunday’s sentences bring the number of French citizens facing the death penalty in Iraq to nine, the prosecutor said, adding that another three are due to stand trial on Monday.

READ: US-led coalition against Daesh killed 1,300 civilians, report says 

“There was sufficient evidence to hand down a death sentence. They both were fighters of the terrorist Daesh organisation,” the prosecutor said of the convictions, which can be appealed.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said on Tuesday that France was intensifying diplomatic efforts to prevent four of its citizens being executed in Iraq after they were sentenced to death for belonging to Daesh.

All the nine French men convicted so far were extradited to Iraq in February and military sources at the time said that 14 French citizens were among 280 Iraqi and foreign detainees handed over by the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

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