A German woman accused of joining ISIS and committing war crimes, including as accomplice to the murder of a 5-year-old Yazidi girl she is alleged to have bought as a slave, has gone on trial in Germany.
The woman, identified only as Jennifer W. because of German privacy laws, did not react on Tuesday as a judge in the court in Munich read out the list of crimes she is accused of: membership of a terrorist organization, weapons violation, murder and, specifically, murder as a war crime.
If convicted, the 27-year old faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
According to the indictment, Jennifer W. is believed to have left her home in Lower Saxony in August 2014 and volunteered to join the ISIS women’s “morality police.” She was allegedly given a weapon and a monthly salary, according to the prosecutor.
The indictment further alleges that in 2015 she and her husband, an ISIS fighter, purchased a Yazidi woman and her five-year-old daughter as slaves, before leaving the child chained up outside in scorching temperatures to die.
The girl’s mother, identified as Nora B. in court documents, now lives in Germany and is one of the co-plaintiffs who will testify at the trial. She is represented by noted human rights lawyer, Amal Clooney, who also represents Yazidi activist and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Nadia Murad.
The case is believed to be the first prosecution of an ISIS member for war crimes committed against the Yazidi minority in Iraq.
ISIS’s murder and enslavement of thousands of Yazidi people has been designated as genocide by the United Nations Human Rights Council.
“This case is important for all Yazidi survivors,” Murad said in a statement released to mark the opening of the trial. “Every survivor I have met and spoken to is waiting for the same thing – for the perpetrators to be prosecuted for their crimes against Yazidis, including women and children. So this is a very big moment for me, and for the entire Yazidi community.”
Tuesday’s hearing was unusually short, lasting only 15 minutes. The trial will resume on April 29.
Jennifer W. was not asked to enter a plea because the federal prosecutor had recently presented new evidence to the court that needs to be evaluated by her defense team, Munich court spokesperson Florian Gliwitzky told CNN.
A verdict in the case is expected in the autumn.