Iraq Shiites 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's attempt to close a chapter in Saddam Hussein's repressive quarter-century in power - by hanging two of his henchmen Monday - further enraged Sunnis when the former leader's half brother was decapitated on the gallows.
Prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi, who witnessed the hangings, said Ibrahim looked tense when he was brought into the chamber. He quoted him as saying, "I did not do anything. It was all the work of Fadel al-Barrak," a reference to the man who ran two intelligence departments in Saddam's feared Mukhabarat.
They were taken to the gallows two weeks and two days after Saddam was hanged in a pitiless execution during which Shiite witnesses taunted their former tormentor in the last minutes of his life. All three hangings occurred in a Saddam-era military intelligence headquarters building in the Shiite north Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah.
By day's end at least 3,000 angry Sunnis, many firing guns in the air, others weeping or cursing the government, assembled in Ouja for the burial of Ibrahim, who also served as Saddam's intelligence chief, and al-Bandar.
"Where are those who cry out in demands for human rights?" Marwan Mohammed, one of the mourners, asked in grief and frustration. "Where are the UN and the world's human rights organizations? Barzan had cancer. They treated him only to keep him alive long enough to kill him. We vow to take revenge, even if it takes years."
Ibrahim's son-in-law, Azzam Saleh Abdullah, said "we heard the news from the media. We were supposed to be informed a day earlier, but it seems that this government does not know the rules."
He said it reflected the hatred for Sunnis felt by the Shi'ite-led government. "They still want more Iraqi bloodshed. To hell with this democracy," he said.
The executed men, at their request, were buried in a garden outside a building Saddam had built for religious events in the town of his birth and in which the former leader was interred on New Year's eve in a grave chipped out of an interior floor.
Issam Ghazawi, a member of Saddam's defense team, said he met individually with Ibrahim and al-Bandar and that Ibrahim told him they were escorted from their cells and told they were also going to be executed.
He said the two men were also told to write their wills, but were taken back to their prison cells nearly nine hours later.
After Saddam's execution, Human Rights Watch released a report calling the speedy trial and subsequent hanging of Saddam proof of the new Iraqi government's disregard for human rights.
"The tribunal repeatedly showed its disregard for the fundamental due process rights of all of the defendants," said Richard Dicker, director of Human Rights Watch's International Justice Program.
On Monday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the executions were mishandled and said she hoped that those responsible for making cell phone videos of Saddam's execution would be punished.
Across Iraq on Monday, authorities reported at least 55 people were killed or found dead, and the US military announced the deaths of two more soldiers, both killed in Baghdad.