Life Sentence for Killer of Khwanas
“Ten bullets killed Khwanas, and we were shot with thousands of bullets”

By KirkukNow

The Third Sulaymaniyah Criminal Court issued a life imprisonment sentence for the killer of the young man, Khwanas Wirya Glee, a year after the incident and the perpetrator’s confession that he killed Khwanas with 10 bullets due to “religious differences.”

Khwanas (which in Kurdish means believer in God), a resident of Chamchamal district, a theater actor and visual artist, was killed on June 22, 2023, by an armed person at the center of Chamchamal bazaar.

The lawyer for the Khwanas case stressed in a press conference today, Tuesday, June 25, that the court, after five sessions, issued a life sentence for the killer of Khwanas Wirya Glee, based on the anti-terrorism law in the (Iraqi) Kurdistan Region.

“As a team of lawyers, we will consult among ourselves regarding the decision and give our opinion after consultation with Khwanas’s family,” he added.

“This case is about freedom of opinion.”

Wirya Glee, father of Khwanas, said during the conference, "We are appealing the decision. The sentence should have been more severe because it is a big case and the killer had instigators and accomplices in the crime."

The family has rejected attempts of tribal reconciliation out of court.

“We wanted to prove to people that the law must prevail in such cases and resolve them,” Khwanas father continued, saying, “We do not want people like Khwanas to become victims of disputes and conflicts. Young people like Khwanas are very deprived in this country.”

We wanted to prove to people that the law must prevail in such cases and resolve them

On June 23, 2023, a day after the killing incident, the perpetrator surrendered himself to the security forces. According to the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG Asayish (security) service, the perpetrator attributed his crime to “the difference in freedom of opinion and religious expression,” and he also acknowledged that “several discussions and misunderstandings had occurred between them.”

In a statement at the time, the Khanas family stressed that “our family has no social problems” and “we are a religious, educated, and well-known family in Chamchamal and Kirkuk. We have not caused problems for anyone, have no problem with anyone, even with the killer and his family.”

The statement also said, "Khwanas is our son and we do not disown him. Our family is proud of its commitment to the Islamic religion and we do not want anyone to doubt our religious identity and commitment to it."

The statement considered the incident "unjustified terrorism and unjust killing, and at the same time we believe that words cannot be answered with bullets."

On April 29, the perpetrator said before the judge, “I killed Khwanas because of religious differences.”

Bahar Manzir, a human rights activist who attended most of the trial sessions, said, “The perpetrator said 23 times before the judge he was not incited by any cleric or any other person, and that he did it himself.”

Two days ago (June 22), on the anniversary of the killing of Khwanas, his father said in a letter, “Khwanas was assassinated by a criminal hand and a black heart, and the candle of his life was extinguished at the age of 25.”

After the killing of Khwanas, “they launched an unjust and inhumane campaign against Khwanas and our family, and they did not stop, but rather heaped insults and curses on me and Khwanas mother.”

"By the loss of Khwanass, parents were heartbroken, a woman was widowed, and a child was orphaned, as well as other negative repercussions," he added.

By the loss of Khwanas, parents were heartbroken, a woman was widowed, and a child was orphaned

The father criticized masses of social media for blind criticism and insults.

Khwanas father expressed dissatisfaction with the campaign of offensive comments and publications launched against them on social media, "It was surprising. No one knew the truth about the incident, yet they were talking about it.”

“They published pictures and video clips dating back to two years before Khwanas assassination, and they showed that he was killed because of it. They were also talking about the unseen and saying that he is now being tortured in the grave.”

Despite losing their son, the father described how they faced harsh attacks.

"We suffered a lot. 10 bullets killed Khwanas, but thousands of bullets shot us. They harmed our status."

In the press conference held in front of the Sulaymaniyah Criminal Court, the lawyers of Khwanas case indicated that various cases had been opened for other people against the background of this case, including cases related to “inciting people to spread offensive words.”

During the trial sessions, the perpetrator stressed that he made his own decision and was not instigated by anyone, however, the father says, “The people behind the perpetrator have not yet been arrested, because there were planners and instigators of the killer.”

Munzir says that the case is related to freedom of expression.

“We can attribute the case to the spread of religious extremism in the Kurdistan Region, as the past few years have witnessed an increase in cases of violence and murder in similar cases.

“The killing of Khwanas is a warning bell that everyone must pay attention to this trend in the Kurdistan Region, and the case should not be viewed as an ordinary murder."

The father  of Khwanass says in his message that he published on the anniversary of his son’s killing, “We must all work to distance young people from extremist ideology and achieve a decent life for young people, promoting the idea of ​​coexistence and standing in the face of murder and terrorism.”

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