Iraq identifies two guards in Saddam video

Investigators have identified two guards who illicitly filmed Saddam Hussein’s execution, an official said on Thursday, as the Iraqi government sought to dampen growing outrage from Sunni Arabs over the unruly hanging.

The mobile-phone video of Shi’ite officials taunting Saddam on the gallows has inflamed sectarian passions in a country on the brink of civil war.

“Two Justice Ministry guards have been arrested. Other guards have identified them as having filmed the hanging,” Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s aide Sami al-Askari told Reuters.

Interior Minister Jawad al-Bolani told a news conference: “The investigation is ongoing and we have identified those who flouted the rules ... Even for a dictator like Saddam, the law must be obeyed.”

A prosecutor who attended the execution told Reuters he had seen two senior officials filming the hanging, prompting suggestions among some Iraqis that the guards might be used as scapegoats.

The images, which show observers yelling “Go to hell” and chanting the name of a radical Shi’ite cleric before Saddam falls through the trap, have sparked angry demonstrations by Saddam’s fellow Sunnis, fearful of Shi’ite ascendancy.
Moderate Sunnis say it deals a blow to Maliki’s call for reconciliation.

Philip Alston, the United Nations’ special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said the “humiliating” way in which Saddam was put to death was a clear violation of international human rights law.

The United States military, which kept physical custody of Saddam for three years, said it had played no role in the execution and would have done things “differently”.—Reuters

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