Written by Staff Writer
By Ramalho Velazquez, CNN
Yezidi woman Shiloh Fisseha Hayashi was sentenced to 12 years in prison Tuesday for enslaving and sexually abusing a Yazidi teenager called Sabeen.
The 60-year-old was found guilty on torture, conspiracy and fraud charges and told the court in Tallinn, Estonia, that she failed to do “her own job,” believing that she “was helping her.”
Fisseha was one of 25 former members of the Halilhodja Düzgi gang who were arrested across Europe last year for kidnapping and abusing Yazidi girls and young women, holding them hostage and coercing them into prostitution.
“I have no feeling of guilt. I only regret that I failed to understand that my actions, as their executioner, would lead to death,” said Fisseha.
“Had I known that Sabeen was dying I would have given her water immediately. As we knew nothing about her, I called her Father Allah in my prayer,” she added.
The gang was tied to the fate of Sabeen and took over her life until she died on October 6, 2015, the prosecutor said.
In video testimony given to the court in December, Sabeen said that she had seen rape and torture for four years before finally dying of heat stroke after weeks without access to water or medical attention.
Fisseha, who is a mother of two, was among the leaders of the Halilhodja Düzgi gang who arrived in Estonia in early 2015, the Baltic daily paper Eesti Päevaleht reported.
Video footage from Amnesty International’s Facebook page published during the sentencing ceremony shows Sabeen crying in court and as she weeps in silence, ‘I want to go home.’
A witness in the case testified that Sabeen was forced to take methadone — an anti-abuse drug — to be “cleansed” by Fisseha, in addition to female-specific Islamic prayer.
Despite Sabeen’s harrowing testimony, Judge Vivari Motskool acquitted Fisseha of the three counts of rape — two for which she was also convicted — which stemmed from her affair with the teenage girl.
The sentence was in line with Estonia’s national laws on criminal liability for victims of crimes and the prosecution could not use the inhuman conditions described in the testimony to prove the culpability of the woman.
Afraid to report abuse
Sabeen’s testimony was the first time anyone has been prosecuted in Estonia, though police had reportedly been investigating the gang since the first day.
Yazidi leader Jalil Uthman Wa’el — who has admitted to masterminding the crime ring — was sentenced to 30 years in prison last month, while Abdullah Dükaye, her former boyfriend, was also sentenced to 30 years.
Other suspects are expected to be extradited to Lithuania, which initiated extradition proceedings in October.