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Iraqi handed suspended jail sentence over war crimes

A 23-year-old Iraqi man has been convicted of war crimes and handed a one-year suspended jail sentence by a Finnish court. The man posted a picture of himself with a decapitated head on his Facebook profile. The verdict follows a similar case that was decided in Tampere last week.

Irakilaismies oikeudessa Hämeenlinnassa
An Iraqi man was handed a one-year suspended jail sentence by Kanta-Häme district court on Tuesday. Image: Kari Mustonen / Yle

An Iraqi man has been given a one-year suspended jail sentence for war crimes by Kanta-Häme District court. A picture he posted on social media showed him holding a decapitated head.

The man arrived in Finland late last year and was detained by police on 7 January. In Iraq he had been part of the state security apparatus fighting insurgents.

He had told the court that the head was that of an ISIS suicide bomber, and that he had put the picture on Facebook because he thought Iraqis would be happy that an ISIS fighter had been killed. He claimed that what he did would not be a crime in Iraq.

His defence lawyer told the court that the man’s actions were morally questionable, but a milder form of war crime over which he claimed Finnish courts had no jurisdiction.

The court ruled otherwise, however, arguing that the man’s actions contravened both Finnish Law and Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which regulates how soldiers and states must treat war crimes.  

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