Iraq will execute two of Saddam Hussein’s half-brothers within a month along with three other former regime officials, an official said on Friday, after the five were handed over by the US military.
The group, transferred to Iraqi custody on Thursday morning, were among 206 high-value detainees still being held by American forces ahead of a US military pullout due by the end of the year.
“We received the final 206 Iraqi prisoners being held by US forces, including five senior officials from the former regime,” said justice ministry spokesman Haidar al-Saadi. “They (the five officials) will be executed within one month.
“They include Watban Ibrahim Hassan and Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti,” two half-brothers of former dictator Saddam Hussein.
Also among the group handed over and slated to be executed were former defence minister Sultan Hashem Ahmed and ex-generals Hussein Rashid al-Tikriti and Aziz Saleh Numan.
The five had been sentenced to death in different trials from 2007 to 2011.
“Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari visited with the presidency council earlier this week and they agreed not to delay the ratification of their condemnation to death,” he said.
“We believe that the council will sign the documents within days and they will be executed within one month.”
Under Iraqi law, all death sentences must be formally approved by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, or by either of his two vice presidents.
The 206 prisoners transferred were being held by US forces at a detention facility on Baghdad’s outskirts, formerly known as Camp Cropper. Although the site was handed over to Iraq on July 15, 2010, American soldiers were charged with holding the group of high-value detainees.
Saadi said that of the larger group, the paperwork for 10 had not yet been completed.
Saddam, who was deposed in a 2003 US-led invasion, himself spent three years in Camp Cropper until his execution on December 2006.
Watban Ibrahim Hassan, a former interior minister, was sentenced to death in March 2009 for his involvement in the 1992 execution of 42 merchants accused of food price speculation. He is the only senior Saddam-era official to have publicly apologised for wrongs committed by the dictator’s Baath party.
Sabawi Ibrahim al-Tikriti, a former chief of Saddam’s intelligence service, was condemned to death in the same trial.
Former defence minister Ahmed and ex-general Tikriti were sentenced to death in June 2007 in connection with the repression of Iraq’s Kurds in the 1987-88 Anfal campaign in which 180,000 died.
Numan received his death sentence last month over the violent suppression of an uprising of Shiite Muslims in south Iraq following the 1991 Gulf War.
“As the Iraqi government gains the ability to hold prisoners requiring higher security standards, they are taking physical custody,” said Colonel Barry Johnson, a US military spokesman.
“All detainees are and have been under their (Iraq’s) legal custody. We only retained physical custody.”
Around 47,000 US soldiers remain stationed in Iraq, with all set to withdraw by the end of the year under a bilateral security pact.