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The Iraqi prime minister on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the conduct of Saddam Hussein's execution in a bid to learn who in the group of witnesses taunted the former Iraqi leader in the last minutes of his life and then clandestinely released a video tape of his death to an Arab satellite television station.
The video, captured by a cell phone camera, contained audio of some witnesses taunting Saddam with chants of "Muqtada" and of the former leader responding that his tormentors were not being unmanly. It surfaced on Al-Jazeera television and the Internet late Saturday, the day Saddam was hanged shortly before dawn.
The taunts referred to Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shi'ite cleric who is a main backer of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Shi'ite leader who pushed for a quick execution of Saddam.
Sami al-Askar, a close al-Maliki political adviser, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the Iraqi leader had "ordered the formation of an investigative committee in the Interior Ministry to identify who chanted slogans inside the execution chamber and who filmed the execution and sent it to the media."
The videotape was particularly inflammatory not only because the disrespectful chanting was clearly audible, but also for showing Saddam's actual death as he dropped through the gallows floor and then swung by his neck, his eyes open and his neck twisted dramatically to his right.
The clandestine video portrayed a much different scene than the official tape of the execution, which was muted and did not show the former leader dropping to his death.
Munqith al-Faroon, an Iraqi prosecutor whose job was to convict Saddam Hussein of genocide, was one of the small group of witnesses at the hanging and defended Saddam's right to die in peace.
He said he knew that "two top officials...had their mobile phones with them [at the execution]. There were no mobile phones allowed at that time."
Saddam's execution and the way it was conducted have provoked anger among Sunni Muslims, who have taken to the streets in recent days in mainly peaceful demonstrations in Sunni enclaves across the country.
On Monday, a crowd of Sunni mourners in Samarra marched to a bomb-damaged Shi'ite shrine and were allowed by guards and police to enter the holy place carrying a mock coffin and photos of the former dictator.