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In this May 23, 2018 file photo, suspected Daesh militants wait their turn for sentencing at the counterterrorism court in Baghdad, Iraq. Image Credit: AP

Baghdad: France said Monday the Iraqi court that sentenced three French citizens to death for being members of Daesh has jurisdiction to rule in the case, a statement that came as questions swirl about the legal treatment of thousands of foreign nationals formerly with the extremist group.

Daesh “terrorists must answer for their crimes in court,” said France’s foreign affair’s ministry spokeswoman, Agnes von der Muhll.

The three, sentenced Sunday, were the first French Daesh members to receive death sentences in Iraq, where they were transferred for trial from neighbouring Syria.

On Monday, a fourth French citizen was sentenced to death for joining Daesh.

Mustapha Merzoughi, 37, was sentenced to death by hanging, according to an AFP journalist at the court.

The French citizens on trial in Iraq are among 12 French Daesh fighters whom the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces handed over to Iraq in January. The Kurdish-led group spearheads the fight against Daesh in Syria and has handed over to Iraq hundreds of suspected Daesh members in recent months.

In Paris, von der Muhll said France’s position is that adults detained in Iraq must be tried by the Iraqi justice system, as soon as it declares itself competent.

“France respects the sovereignty of Iraqi authorities” she added, though she expressed her country’s opposition to the death penalty, “in principle, at all times and in all places.”