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12th Jun 2022

Shamima Begum ‘fears she will be killed’ ahead of Syria trial

Kieran Galpin

‘The justice system there is somewhat meagre’

Runaway Brit Shamima Begum does not have faith in Syria’s legal system and is afraid that standing trial could lead to her own death.

After being refused entry back into the UK last year and having been stripped of her British citizenship, Shamima Begum has remained at the al-Roj camp. The area is in a self-governing region in northeast Syria secured by Kurdish-led forces.

She fled the UK when she was just 15, claiming to have been groomed online, and then joined up with ISIS in Syria. Her case has been a major talking point for the UK, with some believing she should be brought home.

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“No, no, I don’t want that, that can’t happen. I don’t want to be tried in Syria,” Begum said. While officials previously spoke about abolishing the death penalty, friends and lawyers of Begum are fearful of her future.

“I was an angel, you can ask my mum, I was an angel,” the 22-year-old told the Daily Mail. “I did not like my primary school because I faced some racism there, not constantly, but at a young age one thing is enough.”

She added: “Not bullied, but little comments and stuff and favouritism with teachers to white kids over non-white kids.”

An unnamed friend told the outlet: “Begum has convinced herself she’ll pay the ultimate price if she is tried and found guilty of terrorism offences in Syria.

“She’s very frightened and concerned.”

They continued to suggest that Begum would be tried with a “group of women accused of terrorist offences” sometime in September or October.

“Rojava authorities don’t advocate the death penalty but that has failed to convince her she won’t escape such a punishment,” the source said added. “And even if she does, she’s facing a life jail sentence.”

Tasnime Akunjee, a solicitor who has previously acted for Begum, said: “I feel her fears are justified. The justice system there is somewhat meagre.”

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