Dr Harith said "I pardon the killers of my brother Dhamir for the sake of Iraqi people who are fighting to win their peaceful and prosperous life back ... I will not file charges against the killers even if they are captured". 

The AMS had accused parties of trying to initiate internal conflict in Iraq by targeting figures from different backgrounds, but avoided naming any specific groups.

"There are parties working hard to trigger sectarian and ethnic conflict in Iraq. They want to ruin Iraq's image of peaceful coexistence among its different ethnicities and sects" an AMS statement said. 

Dhamir al-Dhari was shot and killed at the door of his house by unknown assailants on Feb 22.

Brain drain

Media and human rights organisations reports suggest that as many as 1000 Iraqi intellectuals and religious leaders have been killed during the 11-month occupation of Iraq. Thousands of high profile Iraqi scientists, artists, academics and doctors have fled the country fearing they may be the next target, some having received actual death threats.

Rashad Mindan, Iraqi minister of Science and Technology denies the reports. Mindan told the Iraqi Media Network last week, "My ministry is sponsoring Iraqi scientists, and is keen to guarantee a democratic working atmosphere for them ... they are one of Iraq's riches."

Dr Taqi Ali al-Musawi, vice-president of al-Mustansirya University in Baghdad does not share the minister's peace of mind and has expressed deep concerns about the escalating systematic executions of Iraqi intellectuals.

"This continuous brain drain means Iraq will lose its scientific workforce", al-Musawi warned.