TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iraq has offered to put on trial several hundreds of accused foreign militants in Baghdad in exchange for millions of dollars, potentially solving a legal conundrum for Western governments but sparking rights concerns.
Western countries have been rocked by fierce public debate over whether to repatriate citizens who joined Daesh, which held swaths of Iraq and Syria for years before losing its last speck of land last month.
Around 1,000 suspected foreign Daesh terrorists are in detention in northeast Syria, in addition to around 9,000 foreign women and children in Kurdish-run camps there.
Iraq has submitted a proposal to the US-led coalition that allegedly fought the militants, offering to try and sentence foreign Daesh suspects in exchange for operational costs, three Iraqi officials told AFP.
“These countries have a problem, here’s a solution,” one said, speaking anonymously because he was not authorized to give details to the press.
The source said Iraq had proposed a rate of $2 million per suspect per year, a calculation based on the estimated per-capital detention costs in the notorious US-run Guantanamo Bay prison.
“We made the proposal last week but have not gotten a response yet,” the source added.
A second official said Iraq had requested $2 billion to try the suspects as “one of several options,” and could ask for “more money to cover the costs of their detention.”
Iraq has already tried several hundred Daesh foreign militants and handed down death sentences to around 100, none of which has been carried out.
Other Daesh suspects have been condemned to life in Iraqi prisons, including 58-year-old Frenchman Lahcen Ammar Gueboudj and two other French nationals. At least 12 French nationals are in Iraqi custody awaiting trial after being transferred from Syria in February.
Detainees from as many as 52 countries could be tried by Baghdad under the arrangement, a third Iraqi official said.
“Iraq proposed to the coalition setting up a special tribunal to try foreigners. There’s been a constructive beginning to those discussions,” the source said.
But establishing the court could be complicated, the official said, with questions over whether international funding for it would preclude implementation of death sentences.
The source added that Iraq proposed the arrangement to the US-led coalition as a whole because it was simpler than negotiating with individual countries.
On the one hand, the Kurdish-run administration in northern Syria has said it does not have the capacity to try all foreigners, calling for an international tribunal to be established there.
But it is not an internationally recognized government, so jurisdiction is dubious.