January 19, 2007
Saddam Hussein’s top aides hanged


Two of Saddam Hussein’s key aides have been hanged in Baghdad, two weeks after the chaotic execution of the former Iraqi president.

There were “no violations” this time, officials said, but Saddam Hussein’s half-brother, Barzan al-Tikriti, was decapitated as he was hanged.{{more}}

He and Awad Hamad al-Bandar, a top judge under Saddam, were convicted over the killing of 148 Shias in the 1980s.

The country’s president Jalal Talabani had urged their executions be delayed.

Government officials said the decapitation of Barzan was not abnormal, although it was rare for the head to be severed during hanging. One described it as “an act of God”.

One of those present, public prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi, told the BBC that when the trap door opened, he could only see the rope dangling.

“I thought the convict Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti had escaped the noose. I shouted that he’s escaped the noose, go down and look for him. I went down a few steps ahead of the others to see: I found out that his head had separated from his body.”

The executions took place at 0300 (0000 GMT), apparently in the same building where Saddam Hussein was put to death on December 30 after being convicted of the same crime.