BAGHDAD – Saddam Hussein’s former deputy was hanged before dawn today for the killings of 148 Shiites, an official with the prime minister’s office said.
Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was Hussein’s vice president when the regime was ousted four years ago, was the fourth man to be executed in the killings that followed a 1982 assassination attempt against the former leader in the city of Dujail.
The official, who witnessed the hanging but spoke on condition of anonymity, said precautions had been taken to prevent a repeat of what happened to Hussein’s half brother Barzan Ibrahim, who was decapitated on the gallows.
Ramadan was weighed before the hanging and the length of the rope was chosen accordingly, the official said.
The executions have outraged Iraqi Sunnis and caused concern among international human rights groups, which had appealed for Ramadan’s life.
Ramadan was convicted in November of murder, forced deportation and torture, and sentenced to life in prison. A month later, an appeals court said the sentence was too lenient, and returned his case to the High Tribunal, demanding he be sentenced to death. The court returned a death sentence.
Ramadan has maintained his innocence, saying his duties were limited to economic affairs, not security issues.
Hussein was executed on Dec. 30 for his role in the killings.
Around Iraq on Monday, bombs tore through a Shiite mosque during prayers in Baghdad and struck several targets in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, killing at least 26 people.
In all, at least 55 Iraqis were killed or found dead in Iraq, including the mayor of a Shiite village southeast of Baghdad.
Late Monday, U.S. and Iraqi troops engaged in a major operation as part of the crackdown in the volatile Hurriyah neighborhood in northern Baghdad, state television said. Witnesses said there were many people reported holed up in two Shiite mosques, surrounded by U.S. forces.
U.S. military deaths
The latest identifications reported by the U.S. military of personnel recently killed in Iraq: