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Middle East
Death sentences for Iraq bombers
Eleven men to be hanged over attacks on the foreign and finance ministries in August.
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2010 09:23 GMT
More than 100 people died in the co-ordinated attacks outside two government ministries in Baghdad [EPA]

An Iraqi court has sentenced 11 men to death by hanging over an apparently co-ordinated series of car bombings in Baghdad that left more than 100 people dead.

The attacks on August 19 targeted the foreign and finance ministries in the capital.

About 600 people were injured in the blasts, which were dubbed "Black Wednesday".

"Today an Iraqi criminal court imposed a death sentence against 11 criminals who have been convicted of implementing, planning and funding the bomb events that targeted the finance and foreign ministries," Abdul Sattar al-Birqdar, a spokesman for the Iraqi supreme judicial council, said.

Among those convicted was Salim Abed Jassim who confessed that he received funding for the attacks from Brigadier General Nabil Abdul Rahman, a senior army officer during the rule of Saddam Hussein.

Also sentenced to death were Ishaq Mohammed Abbas, a purported leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, and his brother Mustapha, a court official told the AFP news agency.

"These men were the brains behind the attacks in August," a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"The others bought the explosives and transported them into Baghdad."

Negligence

The government admitted after the attacks that negligence at checkpoints allowed the bombers to enter the capital with their explosives.

The attacks prompted a diplomatic spat between Iraq and Syria, where Rahman now lives, with the two government's recalling their respective ambassadors after Damascus refused to hand over two alleged suspects.

Many members of Saddam Hussein's Baath party fled to Syria after the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, when the former ruling party of Iraq collapsed and was banned by the occupation authorities.

In 2009, violence in Iraq dropped to its lowest level since the 2003 invasion, but a monitoring group has warned that security gains have levelled off.

According to an AFP tally of figures released by the defence, interior and health ministries, a total of 2,800 civilians were
killed by violence last year, less than half of 2008's toll of 5,886.

Iraq Body Count (IBC), an independent Britain-based group, however, put the civilian toll at 4,497 people and said while there had been "significant improvements" in 2009, "such violence still afflicts Iraq's population more than any other."

Source:
Agencies
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