BAGHDAD, Iraq – Iraqi authorities executed 13 men by hanging Tuesday after they were convicted of murder and kidnapping, lining them up in hoods and green jumpsuits with their hands bound behind their backs.
In a rare move that came amid chaotic violence sweeping the capital, the Iraqi government recorded and distributed graphic television footage of the convicts in the moments before they were put to death. The footage was given to both Iraqi and foreign media.
The images showed two men standing together on a gallows with nooses around their necks. Several of them stooped, and one had his arm around the shoulder of another as the hooded men stood in a row shortly before they were hanged.
The footage also showed a bearded man without a hood as he listened to an official tell him his appeal had been rejected and the sentence was death. “OK,” the prisoner said impassively.
Iraqi TV has rarely aired such pictures since Saddam Hussein’s 2003 ouster. Even under Saddam, executions were common but rarely made public.
After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, American officials deemed the Iraqi court system incapable of rendering a fair decision, and banned the death penalty. Iraqi authorities reinstated the death penalty after the transfer of sovereignty in June 2004 so they would have the option of executing Saddam for crimes committed by his regime. The government had also pointed specifically to the need to quell the insurgency when it reinstated the death penalty.
Elsewhere in the Iraqi capital, gunmen in military uniforms robbed government accountants as they left a bank with bags of cash. It was the second major robbery in Baghdad in eight days.
Also Tuesday, the U.S. military announced the death of a Marine in the insurgent stronghold of Anbar province, bringing to 61 the number of American military personnel killed in December. Some 2,950 U.S. troops have been killed since the U.S.-led 2003 invasion of Iraq.