Tue, Jan 16, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Saddam's half-brother and former court chief hanged

PROVOCATIVE?One of the men was beheaded during the hanging, a side effect that an adviser to the Iraqi prime minister described as an 'act of God'

AFP , BAGHDAD

Late Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's half-brother and the chief of Iraq's disbanded Revolutionary Court were hanged yesterday, two weeks after the deposed Iraqi dictator's bungled execution provoked worldwide condemnation.

The head of Saddam's half-brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, was ripped from his body during the pre-dawn execution, but an Iraqi government official stressed there had been "no violations" during the hangings.

Former secret police chief Barzan and Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, the ex-head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, were executed at 3am, Iraqi government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told a news conference.

`Act of God'

Dabbagh said Barzan had been decapitated during his hanging, while Basem Ridha, an adviser to Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, termed the "incident" an "act of God."

"There was an incident that happened, that is the separation between the body of Barzan and the head. This happens seldom but it did happen and there was [an] act of God and it was a normal process. It's happened before," Ridha said.

The two condemned men had been convicted of crimes against humanity for the killing of 148 Shiites from the village of Dujail in the 1980s.

They were sentenced to death on Nov. 5 by a special court along with Saddam, whose execution on Dec. 30 was widely condemned for the way it was handled by the Iraqi authorities.

Ridha told reporters in comments translated from Dabbagh's statement that "the execution took place in a very high [dignified] manner, there were no violations reported."

"Every member of the execution committee signed a document to behave properly," he added in reference to controversy surrounding the death of Saddam.

It was not immediately known where the latest executions took place.

In neighboring Jordan, government spokesman Nasser Jawdeh told reporters: "We firmly hope that these events will not undermine the efforts under way to achieve national reconciliation in Iraq and to end sectarian violence there," he said.

In Rome, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi condemned the hangings, as they had that of Saddam.

Ridha indicated that the remains of Barzan and Bandar would be turned over to their families in the coming days, saying: "We will invite their families to take the bodies."

A relative of Barzan earlier said that "before he died, Awad al-Bandar also asked to be buried near Saddam Hussein," who now lies in his home village of Awja in northern Iraq.

Jordanian lawyer and member of the defense team Issam al-Ghazzawi said in Amman that the hangings had come as a surprise.

"On Friday, we were in Baghdad where we met Barzan and Bandar and no one informed us of the execution date despite our request to have a representative of our committee present when the sentence was applied," he said.

The outcry over Saddam's hanging had seen the execution of Barzan and Bandar postponed several times.

`Justice'

The White House in its reaction to yesterday's hangings said the Iraqi government was bringing "justice" to those guilty of crimes against the Iraqi people.

"Iraq is a sovereign government exercising its judicial system to bring justice to those convicted for brutal crimes against humanity," White House spokesman Scott Stanzel said

Stanzel said he did not know whether US President George W. Bush had been informed of the new hangings in advance as he had been in the case of Saddam.

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