BAGHDAD – A former deputy in Saddam Hussein’s government was hanged before dawn today for his role in the killings of 148 Shiites, an official with the prime minister’s office said.
Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was Saddam’s vice president when the regime was ousted four years ago, was the fourth man to be executed in the killings of 148 Shiites following a 1982 assassination attempt against the former leader in the city of Dujail.
The official, who witnessed the hanging but spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made, said precautions had been taken to prevent a repeat of what happened to Saddam’s half brother Barzan Ibrahim, who was decapitated on the gallows. Ramadan was weighed before the hanging and the length of the rope was chosen accordingly, the official said.
Ramadan was convicted in November of murder, forced deportation and torture, and was sentenced to life in prison. A month later, an appeals court said the sentence was too lenient and returned his case to the High Tribunal, demanding he be sentenced to death. The court turned it into a death sentence.
Saddam was executed on Dec. 30 for his role in the killings. Two of his co-defendants in the Dujail case – Ibrahim, Saddam’s former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former head of Iraq’s Revolutionary Court – were executed in January.
Around Iraq, meanwhile, bombs tore through a Shiite mosque during prayers in Baghdad and struck several targets in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk on Monday, killing at least 26 people.
Late Monday, U.S. and Iraqi troops engaged in a major operation as part of the crackdown in the volatile Hurriyah neighborhood in northern Baghdad, state television said. Witnesses said there were many people reported holed up in two Shiite mosques, surrounded by U.S. forces.
The state-run Iraqiya network said six civilians had been killed. The U.S. military did not immediately comment on the reports.