Conviction of Iraqi War Criminal Raises Questions About the Treatment of Extremist Fighters in Conflict and Captivity

By Evan Schleicher On February 19th, the Orebro District Court of Sweden convicted 38-year-old Kurda Bahaalddin H Saeed to 15 months in prison for his involvement in the desecration and filming of bodies of Islamic State in Iraq militants. The desecration of dead bodies constitutes a war crime according to Article 8(2)(b)(xxi) and (c)(ii) of the 1998 ICC Statute, which state that “[c]ommitting outrages upon personal dignity” constitutes a war crime in both international and non-international armed conflicts. A later document, the ICC Elements of Crimes, specifies that this includes the desecration of dead bodies. Despite admitting to being in pictures which showed him desecrating the bodies, Bahaalddin denied that he had committed war crimes. This decision reiterates the reality that war crimes, even when committed against ISIS members, who have engaged in countless criminal acts themselves, are still war crimes. It also contrasts with some troubling trends within…

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