Terror charges

Sulaymaniyah court sentences Khwanas Wrya killer to life imprisonment

SULAYMANIYAH — The Sulaymaniyah Criminal Court has sentenced the murderer of Khwanas Wrya to life imprisonment. The court’s final session took place on Tuesday.

Khwanas, a young actor from the Chamchamal district of Sulaymaniyah, was fatally shot by a motorcyclist on June 22, 2023, when he was in his twenties. His murder shocked the local community and ignited widespread debate throughout the Kurdistan Region about the interplay of religious beliefs and personal freedom.

During the session, Karzan Fazil, the lawyer for the victim’s family, stated, “This murder aims to terrorize society and reject any belief that does not align with the perpetrator’s views, setting a dangerous precedent for rejecting diverse beliefs.”

In contrast, the defense lawyer claimed, “The accused acted in response to provocations against God, Islam, and the Peshmerga forces.” The lawyer also asserted that several ‘requests’ were made to Khwanas by the perpetrator to remove his Facebook posts, but he refused.

The perpetrator, a member of the security forces, was influenced by Islamism.

Wrya’s murder sparked widespread outrage across the region. The convict, Hersh Karim, had posted on Facebook less than 24 hours before his arrest, stating he “would not allow insult to the Prophet of God”.

Known in his town for his critical views on religious issues, Wrya’s death prompted discussions on religion and criticism of religious beliefs. While some with radical Islamic views praised the killer, others who value public life and freedom of expression condemned the act.

The ruling was issued under the anti-terrorism law following the lawyer and family’s request to classify the murder under this category.

However, the family of Khwanas Wrya expressed dissatisfaction with the sentence, with the lawyer stating to 964media, “His family expected a harsher penalty. In Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, life imprisonment rarely exceeds 20 years for such cases.”

Wrya Gli, Khwanas’s father, told 964media, “We are not satisfied with the verdict and plan to appeal. We expected a stricter punishment due to the clear and unjustified nature of the crime and the evidence presented.”

Khwanas’s father also commented, “Some relatives of the perpetrator attempted to resolve the issue through tribal reconciliation, but we refused to compromise on Khwanas’s blood.”

Tribal reconciliation, aimed at resolving conflicts between families outside the legal and judicial systems, often involves a process where the perpetrator and the victim’s families come to an agreement. This type of reconciliation typically results in the perpetrator being pardoned, while the victim’s family receives financial compensation from the perpetrator’s family.

An old video of Wrya discussing murder resurfaced on social media after his death, where he said, “There is no justification for taking someone’s life and committing murder,” unknowingly foreshadowing his own fate.