The Central Criminal Court in Baghdad sentenced Bilal al-Marchohi, 23, today for carrying out operations on behalf of the hardline Islamic State militant group. He is one of dozens of foreign nationals who are facing trial after ISIS lost a number of strongholds to the US-backed military campaigns in Iraq. During the court proceedings, Judge Jumaa Saidi read out parts of Marchohi’s signed confession and showed a video and photographs that he said proved his membership of ISIS.
But Marchohi denied all allegations against him in court, including that he was a member of ISIS at any time.
He said: ”I shouldn’t be prosecuted in Iraq, I should be prosecuted in Belgium. I am a Belgian citizen.”
Images from a phone found in his possession when he was arrested showed Marchohi carrying a gun and making a hand gesture affiliated with the militants.
Many pictures also showed him holding his infant son.
The judge told the court that the photographs were clear evidence Marchohi was a member of Islamic State.
A translator was appointed by the judge for Marchohi, who spoke in English throughout the trial.
He was also given a court appointed lawyer but had no contact with him during the trial.
The Belgian Foreign Ministry said it had no power to intervene, but added it did not agree with punishment being the death penalty.
A ministry spokesman said in Brussels: “We have done it a few times – even before Mr al-Marchohi and Mr Jadaoun were put to trial.”
Marchohi’s family, who live Antwerp, Belgium, did not comment.
Marchohi is the second of two Belgians held in Iraq known to have been sentenced to death for being part of ISIS.
Tarek Jadaoun, 30, also known as Abu Hamza al-Beljiki, was sentenced to death in May 2018.
He was a senior member of ISIS and was often featured in the group’s propaganda videos which threatened attacks in Europe.
But many human rights groups have accused Iraq of “inconsistencies” in the judicial process, along with unfair convictions.