Baghdad, June 16 (AKnews) – 15 of the 34 perpetrators of what has become known as the Dujail wedding massacre have been sentenced to death by hanging by Iraq's criminal court, the Judicial Council said.
Judicial Council spokesman Abdulsalam al-Bairaqdar told AKnews that the criminal court sentenced to death 15 of the insurgents found guilty of the crime including leader - "the terrorist Firas al-Jubbouri" - under the terror law.
The death sentences come after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani - who has always refused to sign death warrants on moral grounds - authorized his deputy, Khudair al-Khuzaie, to sign them in his place.
Talabani is well-known for his objection to capital penalty - he famously refused to sign the warrant for the hanging of Saddam Hussein, who was responsible for the murder of thousands of his fellow Kurds and against whom he led a guerrilla war.
The President's decision to give his deputy signatory rights came after intense pressure from the political blocs and the Iraqi public to bring the perpetrators of "terror" crimes against the population to justice.
On Friday, hundreds of protestors took to the streets of Baghdad calling for the execution of Firas al-Jubbouri and his accomplices.
The worst attack the al-Qaeda affiliated group had carried out was the systematic killing of a wedding party celebrating the marriage of a Shiite man and a Sunni woman in the town of Taji, north of Baghdad, before disposing of their bodies in the Tigris river.
The murders came as confessional violence was raging throughout Iraq, with tens of thousands having died in 2006 and 2007 as a result of the brutal sectarian war.
Police said the insurgents first detonated a bomb across the road the party was travelling along, so as to force them to travel along a side street.
They separated the women, the men, and the children and raped all the women, then hung massive weights around the necks of the 15 children, who were aged between two and 12 years old, and threw them in the river to drown, according to police accounts.
The new bride was raped in front of her husband, and all the men in the wedding party were made to stand along a bridge crossing the river, with each receiving a single gunshot to the back of their head and their bodies being flung into the water with the force of the bullet.
The bride was slashed in the chest and left to bleed to death.
Baghdad witnessed demonstrations of hundreds on Friday who called for the execution of the perpetrators of the Dujail massacre.
"The council will wait for 30 days until the period of appeal is over and then the court order to execute the 15 men by hanging will be passed to the presidency of Iraq for approval," Al-Bairaqdar said.
Written by Raber Y. Aziz, reported by Jafar al-Wannan, edited by Karl Allen (AKnews)