- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2007

BAGHDAD — The head of Saddam Hussein’s half brother Barzan Ibrahim was ripped from his body when he and another top aide to the former Iraqi dictator were hanged before dawn yesterday, a government official said.

The accidental beheading prompted expressions of outrage and disgust just 16 days after Saddam was executed in an unruly scene that has drawn worldwide criticism.

Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh stressed that all laws and rules were respected during yesterday’s hanging of Ibrahim, the former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, head of Iraq’s Revolutionary Court.

“Those present signed documents pledging not to violate the rules or otherwise face legal penalties. All the people present abided by the government’s rule, and there were no violations,” he said. “No one shouted slogans or said anything that would taint the execution. None of those charged were insulted.”

An official government video of the side-by-side hanging that was shown to a small group of reporters showed Ibrahim and al-Bandar wearing red prison jumpsuits. As they reached the gallows, black hoods were put on their heads and five masked men surrounded them.

The silent video showed the trap doors opening. Al-Bandar could be seen dangling from the rope, while Ibrahim’s body in a blur fell to the floor, chest down, his still-hooded severed head resting several yards away.

The government played the video for the reporters apparently to allay any suspicions that Ibrahim’s body was mutilated after death.

“We will not release the video, but we want to show the truth,” Mr. al-Dabbagh said. “The Iraqi government acted in a neutral way.”

Many Shi’ites celebrated the hangings but Sunnis denounced them as a partisan act of revenge and European governments expressed disgust at the beheading, the result of miscalculating the proper length of rope for a man of Ibrahim’s weight.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said at a press conference in Egypt that the executions had been mishandled, as was that of Saddam.

“We were disappointed there was not greater dignity given to the accused under these circumstances,” she said.

The execution was conducted on the same gallows where Saddam was hanged Dec. 30 in a building located in the Shi’ite neighborhood of Kazimiyah.

Prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi said Ibrahim looked tense when he was brought into the room and said, “I did not do anything. It was all the work of Fadel al-Barrak.” Ibrahim was referring to a former head of two intelligence departments.

The government came under widespread condemnation because of Saddam’s chaotic execution, in which video of the hanging, recorded on a cell-phone camera, showed him being taunted on the gallows.

Ibrahim and al-Bandar had been found guilty along with Saddam in the killing of 148 Shi’ite Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt on the former leader in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad.

The bodies were taken after the 3 a.m. hanging to Saddam’s hometown of Ouja, near Tikrit, 80 miles north of Baghdad, for burial, and residents fired their weapons into the air intensively, according to Iraqi tradition.

Mr. al-Dabbagh said the gallows were built to international standards and in accordance with human rights organizations.

But Param-Preet Singh, counsel for the international justice program at Human Rights Watch, said she was not aware of any internationally recognized standards for hanging.

“Under no circumstances can an execution be in accordance with human rights standards,” she said. “There’s a move away from executions in general … which shows there are no international standards.”

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