Baghdad - Amid conflicting reports
and what appeared to be an attempted media blackout, a lawyer for one of Saddam
Hussein's co-defendants said the former Iraqi president's two condemned aides
were hanged at dawn on Monday.
An undated handout file
photo shows Former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein's half-brother Barzan
al-Tikriti on the five of clubs card in a US pack of cards of 55
most-wanted Iraqis distributed to troops. [Reuters]
Badia Aref told CNN that the son of his client, former judge Awad al-Bander,
had been told by US officials that Bander and Saddam's half-brother and former
intelligence chief Barzan al-Tikriti had been hanged, 16 days after Saddam
He later told Al Arabiya television: "One hour ago, or even less than one
hour ago, the Americans told (his family) to get ready to collect his body ...
His son is with me now, but he cannot talk because he's praying."
US-funded Al Hurra television, which first reported Saddam's execution,
quoted an Iraqi government source also saying the pair had been executed.
However, few officials involved in the court were available for comment
except for senior prosecutor Munkith al-Faroon -- and he, although quoted in one
media report as confirming the executions, then repeatedly denied any knowledge
of the deaths.
Iraqi state television carried his denial in a screenflash.
The chief prosecutor in the case, Jaafar al-Moussawi, told Reuters he was
unaware of an execution and seeking information. By law, one of the prosecution
team must be present at hangings.
Controversy over Saddam's hanging has made Iraqi officials reluctant to speak
on the record about some elements of it and some have previously made
contradictory remarks in public.
Former Iraqi president
Saddam Hussein (front) and his co-defendant Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti
(back) gesture during their trial in Baghdad in this February 13, 2006
file photo. [Reuters]
The emergence of illicit mobile phone video showing Saddam being taunted by
Shi'ite observers at his execution on December 30, four days after his appeal
failed, angered many in his Sunni Arab minority, embarrassed the Shi'ite-led
government and the U.S. administration and raised sectarian tensions.
A US military spokesman and a US embassy spokesman said they were unaware of
the deaths. The Iraqi government spokesman has scheduled a news conference for
10:30 am (0730 GMT). It was announced on Sunday and the subject was not given.
Barzan was a feared figure in Iraq at the head of the intelligence service in
the 1980s. Bander presided the Revolutionary Court which sentenced 148 Shi'ite
men and youths to death after an assassination attempt on Saddam in the town of
Dujail in 1982. With Saddam, they were convicted on November 5 of crimes against
humanity by the US-sponsored High Tribunal.