First Published: 2013-04-16


Iraq carries out 21 executions in one day on 'terror' charges


Baghdad carries out 21 executions as growing violence raises further questions about credibility of April 20 provincial elections.


Middle East Online

One-sided view of Iraq reality

BAGHDAD - Iraq put 21 men to death on Tuesday, a senior justice ministry official said, the latest in a series of mass executions that have drawn international condemnation.

All of the men were Iraqis and had been convicted on anti-terror charges, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Twenty-one Iraqis were executed today, according to Article Four of the Anti-Terrorism Law," the official said.

Iraq typically carries out its executions by hanging.

The latest executions brought to 50 the number of executions Baghdad has carried out so far this year, despite widespread calls for a moratorium on the country's use of capital punishment.

Iraq carried out 129 executions in 2012 and Justice Minister Hassan al-Shammari insisted last month that Baghdad would continue to implement the death penalty.

The country's executions have sparked concern from the United Nations, as well as from Britain, the European Union and rights groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Amnesty said in its annual report on capital punishment last week that the use of the death penalty was broadly diminishing around the world, but Iraq remained a black spot.

Al-Qaeda's front group in Iraq said last month that it carried out a wave of attacks that eventually left 56 people dead as "revenge for those whom you (the government) executed," referring to a total of 18 executions carried out by Iraq on March 14 and 17.

Growing violence raises further questions about the credibility of April 20 provincial elections seen as a key test of Iraq's stability and its security forces

Bombings in Iraq, including one near a governor's convoy, killed eight people on Tuesday a day after a wave of attacks left 50 dead ahead of the first elections since US troops withdrew.

A car bomb killed four people and wounded 15 in Aziziyah, while a roadside bomb killed a soldier and wounded two near Mussayib, both south of the capital, security and medical officials said.

Three separate blasts north of Baghdad killed three people and wounded eight others, and a roadside bomb exploded near a convoy carrying Nineveh province's Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi near the main northern city of Mosul, though no one was hurt.

Gunmen also attacked a military site northwest of the disputed city of Kirkuk in the north, wounding two soldiers, while two workers on an irrigation project were kidnapped west of the city.

The spate of bombings comes a day after more than 30 attacks killed 50 people and wounded almost 300.

A total of 14 election hopefuls have already been murdered and just 12 of the country's 18 provinces will be taking part in the vote.

Soldiers and policemen cast their ballots for the provincial elections on Saturday, a week ahead of the main vote, the country's first since March 2010 parliamentary polls.

It is also the first election since US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011.

The election comes amid a long-running crisis between Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and several of his erstwhile government partners, which officials and diplomats say insurgent groups exploit by using the political differences to enhance their room for manoeuvre on the ground.

More than 8,000 candidates are contesting 378 seats on provincial councils, with an estimated 16.2 million Iraqis eligible to vote.


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