Saddam Hussein’s former vice president Taha Yassin Ramadan was hanged for crimes against humanity on March 20. Ramadan was sentenced in November to life in jail for his role in the 1982 killing of 148 Shi’ites in the town of Dujail, for which Saddam and two former aides were hanged. But an appeals court recommended he receive the death penalty. New York-based Human Rights Watch raised concerns about the fairness of the original trial and said there was a lack of evidence tying Ramadan to the Dujail killings. UN human rights chief Louise Arbour, who appealed unsuccessfully to Iraq to stop the executions of Saddam and his two aides, had also urged Baghdad to spare Ramadan’s life, saying a death sentence would break international law. (Reuters, March 20)
Meanwhile, on day earlier at least six worshippers were killed and 32 wounded when a suicide bomber struck a Shi’ite mosque during prayers in Baghdad. The attacker tried to enter the mosque, but blew himself up at the entrance after guards tried to search him. The attack occurred in the central Shorja market area, where a massive truck bomb killed 137 people last month.
Three car bombs and two roadside devices also killed 18 and wounded 37 in Kirkuk. (Irish Times, March 19)