Two aides to be buried near Saddam
Saddam Hussein's half brother and the former chief of Iraq's Revolutionary Court were hanged before dawn Monday, Prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon said. Barzan Ibrahim, Saddam's half brother and former intelligence head, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, had been found guilty along with Saddam in the killing of 148 Shiites after a 1982 assassination attempt on the former president in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad.
"They (government) called us before dawn and told us to send someone. I sent a judge to witness the execution and it happened," al-Faroon said, according to the AP. Two officials in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's office, confirmed that the hangings took place around 6 a.m. local time.
Later, government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh confirmed the executions took place, saying those attending the hangings included a prosecutor, a judge and a physician. He also said Ibrahim's head was severed from his body during his hanging. "In a rare incident, the head of the accused Barzan Ibrahim al-Hassan was separated from his body during the execution," al-Dabbagh told reporters.
The official government video of the side-by-side hanging that was shown to a small group of reporters 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 AP reported.
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. "We will not release the video, but we want to show the truth," Dabbagh 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."
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.
The executions reportedly occurred in the same building in north Baghdad where the former leader was hanged two days before the end of 2006, according to an Iraqi general. The building is located in the Shiite neighborhood of Kazimiyah.
Last week, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani urged the government to delay the executions.
Issam Ghazawi, a member of Saddam's defense team for the past two years, said he met individually with Ibrahim and al-Bandar recently. Ghazawi quoted as Al-Bandar as saying he "wished to have been executed with President Saddam."
Meanwhile, police in Ouja, the town where Saddam was born and then buried just outside Tikrit, said two graves had been opened near the former leader's grave in a building he constructed during the 1990s as a community center for religious occasions.