A Bosnian national is being held in a prison in Erbil, Iraq, and might be facing the death penalty for having joined the Islamic State (ISIS) forces, N1 found out on Friday.
Bosnia’s institutions know about the case but have no detailed official information about him.
The Bosnian reportedly left Germany for Syria in February 2015 to join the terrorist organisation.
N1 found out and confirmed with police agencies that his first name is Muhamed, that he is 29 years old and that he was arrested in Iraq.
Bosnia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told N1 that the Bosnian national surrendered to Iraqi forces after the offensive on Mosul.
Some sources said that Muhamed H. and a German national whom he married according to Sharia law had decided to leave the territory controlled by ISIS and had surrendered to Kurdish forces who locked them up in Erbil.
“The State Investigation and Protection Agency has unconfirmed information that a national of Bosnia and Herzegovina is in Iraq and is imprisoned by the Iraqi Armed Forces,” the state police (SIPA) told N1.
SIPA also said that Bosnia’s Prosecuttor's Office has launched an investigation into the Bosnian national.
NCB Interpol Wiesbaden had issued an international arrest warrant against him in May 2015, SIPA said.
Neither the imprisoned man nor his legal representatives have requested consular help or protection from Bosnia’s Embassy in Amman, Jordan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told N1.
It also said it is unaware of what crimes Muhamed H. is accused of.
The Ministry said it found out from members of the Bosnian’s family that he was allowed to establish contact via telephone, and that Bosnia’s Embassy, as well as the Iraqi Embassy in Amman, mediated for him to be allowed visits.
“As the Red Cross is engaged in solving the problems of foreign nationals imprisoned in Iraqi, representatives of Bosnia’s Embassy in Amman are in contact with representatives of the Red Cross in Amman, with the goal of acquiring more information and for improving the quality of consular protection,” the Ministry said.
Media reports from the beginning of 2018 said that a German woman was the first foreign national to be sentenced to death by hanging because of her ISIS affiliation.
However, some death sentences were later converted to life imprisonment.
There is no official statistical data on the number of such sentences in Iraq, but some sources talk about hundreds.
Human rights organisations have been warning of the urgency in prosecuting and the inconsistencies during terrorism trials in Iraq.
Eleven French nationals were sentenced for being members of ISIS as well. None of those sentences have been executed yet.
“Generally speaking, those who are detained do not have access to the most basic human rights. They face the death penalty and the prisons are extremely overfilled. Because of that, every country that transfers its citizens to Iraq is doing it illegally as they are not protecting them from torture and the death penalty,” said Belkis Wille, from Human Rights Watch.
“That is why we call upon countries to do all they can to ensure the return of their nationals and that proper investigations and trials are conducted - in case they determine that crimes were committed, but that needs to be done within national systems,” she said.
CNN’a Arwa Damon spoke in March to four persons who were sentenced to death for their ISIS affiliation. A judge and spokesperson of Iraq’s higher court rejected the criticism coming from human rights organisations when he spoke to her.
"When I sentence someone to death or life in prison, I am giving the victim their justice," judge Abdul Sattar al-Birqdar told her.
"But I am also giving a deterrence to society, to anyone thinking of joining these groups to think a thousand times before they do it. And that is also a message to those coming from abroad," he said.
Human Rights Watch is also warning of the treatment of more than 700 women and children in Iraqi prisons.