An Iraqi court on Monday raised the sentence against Saddam Hussein's vice president to death by hanging for the killings of Shiites in the town of Dujail.
The decision had been expected after an appeals court ruled that Taha Yassin Ramadan's previous sentence of life in prison was too lenient.
Ramadan is the fourth member of the ousted regime to face capital punishment for the killings of 148 Shiites after a 1982 attempt on Saddam's life in the mainly Shiite town of Dujail, north of Baghdad.
Saddam, his half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, also were sent to the gallows.
“I swear to God that I'm innocent, Allah is my supporter and will take revenge on all who treated me unjustly!” Ramadan yelled after the verdict was read.
The chief judge, Ali al-Kahachi, ordered him removed from the courtroom. He said the case would be automatically appealed.
Ramadan was convicted on Nov. 5 of murder, forced deportation and torture and sentenced to life in prison. A month later, the appeals court said the sentence was too lenient, and returned his case to the High Tribunal, demanding he be sentenced to death. The court agreed to turn it to a death sentence.
Three other defendants were sentenced to 15 years in prison in the case; one was acquitted, the AP reports.
New York-based Human Rights Watch, which raised concerns about the fairness of the original trial, urged the court on Sunday not to impose the death penalty, saying there had been a lack of evidence tying Ramadan to the Dujail killings.
The trial court in November found Ramadan guilty of issuing orders for the systematic killing, detention and torture of men, women and children from Dujail following an attempt on Saddam's life there in 1982, Reuters reports.
Facts about Ramadan
- Born to a peasant family in the northern region of Mosul in the late 1930’s, Ramadan worked in a bank after completing his secondary education. His political career took off in 1956 when he joined the Baath party, then banned by the British-backed monarchy.
- Ramadan and Saddam’s deputy Izzat Ibrahim are the sole survivors of the plotters of the 1968 coup that returned the Baath party to power. Ramadan joined Iraq’s powerful Revolutionary Command Council after the coup.
- In 1970, he headed a revolutionary court that executed 44 officers for plotting to overthrow the regime.
- Iraqi exiles accused him of crimes against humanity for his role in crushing a Shia uprising in southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War and his alleged involvement in the killing of thousands of Kurds in the north in 1988, gulf-times.com says.
- Ramadan proposed in 2002, before the start of the war with Iraq in 2003, that Saddam and US President George W Bush settle their differences in a duel with weapons of their choice.
- Ramadan was captured in Mosul in August 2003, by Iraqi Kurdish fighters and handed over to US forces.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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