Judge acquitted father charged of murder of two daughters replaced

House of Justice in Sulaymaniyah.

By KirkukNow

The judge who ordered the release of the main suspect for the murder of the two sisters in Chamchamal district of Sulaymaniyah province, early September was replaced three weeks after a that a senior Iraqi Kurdish official denounced the court verdict while the judge insists that he asked for replacement.

Judge Salar Rauf Mahmoud, president of the Sulaymaniyah Criminal Court, on September 11, acquitted the father of the two sisters whose bodies were recovered together on September 9, 2020 in a pit in a cemetery between Chamchamal and Shiwan subdistrict, east of Kirkuk.

Rauf resigned on Sunday and was replaced by his deputy.

"This was part of some changes in the court. I asked a year ago to reduce the pressure on me at work because I had two other jobs in my field and that made me tired," he told Kirkuk Now.

Deputy Prime Minister of Kurdistan Regional Government KRG Qubad Talabani, three days after the court verdict to release the suspect, described the decision as "the snake and ladder, returning to the beginning.”

"Following the efforts of the security forces, with the support of citizens and interested journalists, we managed to arrest a suspect for murder and violence against women, yet we come back to zero point with a court ruling," he added in a post on Facebook.

Qubad Talabani
Talabani's post on Facebook

Talabani lately led a campaign to curb violence against women and vowed to show no mercy to those commit such crimes.

"Action includes laws, guidelines, procedures, follow-up, warnings and collective action in general. These and many other tools must work in harmony as an orchestra, each plays his role but if one of the members of this orchestra does not do his duty, or is indifferent, it will distort the symphony.”

He clearly criticized the judicial system following the court ruling in the case of Chamchamal sisters.

"I was very angry to hear that a man accused of killing his two daughters was released for weak reasons and lack of evidence. What message does this send to those who kill women?"

He was specifically critical of the judge who handled the case.

“I am sorry that some of our judges are still indifferent to dealing with cases of violence against women,” Talabani wrote.

I am sorry that some of our judges are still reluctant to deal with cases of violence against women

Salar Rauf Mahmoud, President of the Sulaimani Criminal Court, denied the speech of the Deputy Prime Minister had impact on leaving office.

"I want to assure you that there is no such reason. What happened was within the framework of the changes in the court and nothing else," he told KirkukNow.

Chamchamal, September 9, 2020: Police excavating the pit where the two sisters were buried, six days after their disappearance. Hemin Ahmad

During the acquittal of the father of the two girls, a lawyer who was aware of the last court hearing told KirkukNow, “Judge Salar said at the hearing that there is not enough evidence to charge you with killing your daughters. This is human court yet we entrust you to the judgment of God.”

On September 9, 2020, Chamchamal police recovered the bodies of two sisters (Awara, 19, and Helen, 17), from a half-meter-deep pit near the cemetery of Braim Agha village between the district of Chamchamal - Shiwan subdistrict. This comes about a week after they disappeared. The court then issued an arrest warrant for their father and identified him as the main suspect.

The main suspect, who is their father, surrendered to Chamchamal police on March 30, 2021, six months after the bodies of his daughters were found.

On the same day, the Sulaymaniyah police directorate said in a statement that the main suspect (F, H, S) has surrendered and confessed his crime before the investigation court and is now detained by the judge as investigations continue.

“This war we are fighting is like the game of snakes and ladder. When you think you have won a few steps ahead of the snake, it will take suddenly take you down but we will climb again and never let those people to rest. I will never let people forget how dishonest you are. I swear, even if I am alone, I will follow you.”

The bodies of the two sisters who were shot dead as bullets were found on their bodies, were buried in a cemetery in Chamchamal district in the presence of human rights organizations.

Statistics from the General Directorate for Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence indicate that 24 women were killed in the Kurdistan Region last year, in addition to the registration of 62 cases of "suicide" and more than 78 cases of "self-immolation."

A few days after their burial, KirkukNow spoke to a number of relatives of the two girls and a cousin of their father whom all confirmed the two sisters were very humble, obedient and very compatible with each other.

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