- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities yesterday hanged 13 insurgents, marking the first time militants have been executed in the country since Saddam Hussein was ousted.

The U.S. military also announced that it will leave the notorious Abu Ghraib prison and turn it over to Iraqi authorities after a new detention facility is completed in about three months.

“The competent authorities have today carried out the death sentences of 13 terrorists,” a Cabinet statement said.

The announcement listed the name of only one of those hanged, Shukair Farid, a former policeman in the northern city of Mosul, who purportedly confessed that he had worked with Syrian foreign fighters to enlist fellow Iraqis to kill police and civilians.

The statement said Farid had “confessed that foreigners recruited him to spread the fear through killings and abductions.”

A judicial official said the death sentences were handed down in separate trials and were carried out in Baghdad.

In September, Iraq hanged three convicted murderers, the first executions since Saddam’s ouster in April 2003. They were convicted of killing three police officers, kidnapping and rape.

Capital punishment was suspended during the formal U.S. occupation, which ended in June 2004, and the Iraqis reinstated the penalty two months later for those found guilty of murder, endangering national security and distributing drugs, saying it was necessary to help put down the persistent insurgency.

The authorities also wanted to have the option of executing Saddam if he is convicted of crimes committed by his regime.

Saddam and seven co-defendants are on trial on charges of massacring more than 140 people in Dujail, north of Baghdad, after an assassination attempt against him in 1982.

The Abu Ghraib prison west of Baghdad holds more than 4,500 detainees. Widely publicized photographs of prisoner abuse by U.S. military guards and interrogators at the facility led to intense global criticism of the war and fueled the insurgency.

Once the United States moves detainees to the new prison at Camp Cropper and other facilities, Abu Ghraib will be returned to Iraqi prison authorities, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad.

Lt. Col. Kier-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for U.S. military detainee operations, said completion of the prison at Camp Cropper would set the transfer in motion.

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