Saddam deputy executed
The former deputy of Saddam Hussein was hanged before dawn Tuesday for the killings of 148 Shiites, an official with the prime minister's office said. Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was Saddam's vice president when the regime was ousted by the U.S.-led invasion that began four years ago in Iraq, was the fourth man to be executed in relation to a 1982 assassination attempt against the former leader in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad.
The official, who witnessed the hanging, told the AP, precautions had been taken to prevent a repeat of what happened to Saddam's half brother and co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim, who was inadvertently decapitated on the gallows.
Ramadan, who was nearly 70, was weighed before the hanging and the length of the rope was chosen accordingly, the official conveyed.
The execution took place at an Iraqi army and police base, which had been the headquarters of Saddam's military intelligence. Ramadan had been in U.S. custody but was handed over to the Iraqis before the hanging, the official said.
The prosecutor read out the verdict of the appeals court upholding the death sentence along with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's decision to carry it out, the official said, adding that a defense lawyer received Ramadan's written will.
"He recited the two shahadahs. The execution was flawless," the official said, adding that the hanging was videotaped for official purposes.
Ramadan was convicted in November of murder, forced deportation and torture and sentenced to life in prison. A month later, an appeals court said the sentence was too lenient, and returned his case to the High Tribunal, which sentenced him to death.
Ramadan's son told Al Jazeera television his father would be buried in the area of the Iraqi city of Tikrit near Saddam's burial place. "It was not an execution. It was a political assassination," he said from the Yemeni capital Sanaa.