Saddam's half brother, top aide hanged
Saddam's half brother, top aide hanged
By QASSIM ABDUL-ZAHRA, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD, Iraq - Two top aides to Saddam Hussein were hanged before dawn Monday, and the head of one of them the former Iraqi dictator's half brother Barzan Ibrahim was severed from his body during the execution, a government official said.
Two weeks and two days after Saddam was executed in an unruly scene that has drawn worldwide criticism, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh stressed that all laws and rules were respected during Monday's hanging of Ibrahim, the former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court.
"Those present signed documents pledging not to violate the rules or otherwise face legal penalties. All the people present abided by the government's rule and there were no violations," he said, adding the hangings occurred at 3 a.m. "No one shouted slogans or said anything that would taint the execution. None of those charged were insulted."
The official government video of the side-by-side hanging that was shown to a small group of reporters, including one from The Associated Press, showed Ibrahim and al-Bandar wearing red prison jumpsuits. As they reached the gallows, black hoods were put on their heads and five masked men surrounded them.
The video showed the trap doors opening. Al-Bandar could be seen dangling from the rope, while Ibrahim's body in a blur fell to the floor, chest down, his still-hooded severed head resting several yards away.
The execution was conducted on the same gallows where Saddam was hanged Dec. 30 in a building located in the Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah. Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said the gallows were built to international standards and in accordance with human rights organizations.
"We will not release the video, but we want to show the truth," he said. "The Iraqi government acted in a neutral way."
Prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said Ibrahim looked tense when he was brought into the room and said "I did not do anything. It was all the work of Fadel al-Barrak." Ibrahim was referring to a former head of two intelligence departments."
The government came under widespread condemnation because of Saddam's chaotic execution in which video of the hanging, recorded on a cell phone camera, showed the former dictator being taunted on the gallows.
Ibrahim and al-Bandar had been found guilty along with Saddam in the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt on the former leader in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad.
The announcement drew outrage from some in the Sunni community while majority Shiites who were heavily persecuted under Saddam's regime expressed joy.
Khalaf al-Olayan, a leader of the main Sunni bloc in parliament, demanded to see any video taken during the execution.
"It is impossible for a person to be decapitated during a hanging," he told Al-Jazeera television. "This shows that they (the government) have mutilated the body and this is a violation of the law."
"We want to see the video that was taken during the execution of the two men in order for them (government) to prove what they are saying," he added.
Police in Ouja, the town where Saddam was born and then buried just outside Tikrit, said two graves had been opened near Saddam's grave in a building he constructed during the 1990s as a community center for religious occasions.
The two men were to have been hanged along with Saddam, but Iraqi authorities decided to execute the former dictator alone on what National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie called a "special day."
Last week, President Jalal Talabani urged the government to delay the executions but gave no explanation during a news conference with U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said that Khalilzad asked him to delay Saddam's execution for 10 days to two weeks, but added that Iraqi officials rejected the demand.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, along with U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour, had called on Iraq to refrain from executing Ibrahim and al-Bandar.
Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, meanwhile, called for the release of five Iranians detained by U.S. forces in what he said was a legitimate diplomatic mission in northern Iraq, but he stressed that foreign intervention to help insurgents would not be tolerated.
The statement by Zebari highlighted the delicate balance facing the Iraqi government as it tries to secure Baghdad with the help of American forces while maintaining ties with its neighbors, including U.S. rivals Iran and Syria.
"Any interventions or any harmful interventions to kill Iraqis or to provide support for insurgency or for the insurgents should be stopped by the Iraqi government and by the coalition forces," Zebari said in an interview with CNN's "Late Edition."
But he also stressed Iraq has to keep good relations with its neighbors in the region.
"You have to remember, our destiny, as Iraqis, we have to live in this part of the world. And we have to live with Iran, we have to live with Syria and Turkey and other countries," he said. "So in fact, on the other hand, the Iraqi government is committed to cultivate good neighborly relations with these two countries and to engage them constructively in security cooperation."
The U.S. military said the five Iranians detained last week in the Kurdish-controlled northern city of Irbil were connected to an Iranian Revolutionary Guard faction that funds and arms insurgents in Iraq. It was the second U.S. raid targeting Iranians in Iraq in less than a month.
Iran's government denied the five detainees were involved in financing and arming insurgents and called for their release along with compensation for damages.
"Their job was basically consular, official and in the framework of regulations," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said Sunday. "What the Americans express was incorrect and hyperbole against Iran in order to justify their acts."
The Iraqis and the Americans, meanwhile, prepared for a new joint security operation to secure Baghdad as it faces spiraling sectarian violence.
Bush said Wednesday that additional 21,500 U.S. troops will head to Iraq soon to try improve the security situation mainly in Baghdad and the western province of Anbar.
At least 78 people were reported killed or found dead on Sunday, including 41 bullet-riddled bodies discovered in Baghdad. The U.S. military also said two American soldiers died Sunday from roadside bombs in Baghdad.
On Monday, three policemen were killed and two hurt when a roadside bomb targeted their car in a southeastern section of Iraq's capital.
Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this story.
"The duty of a member of this chamber is not to pander to what is popular
but to uphold what is right..." -RR