Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Unit 1012 Cover Photo

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Iraq OKs execution of 'Chemical Ali'

Posted 2/29/2008 6:27 PM

By John Affleck, Associated Press Writer
BAGHDAD — The Saddam Hussein henchman known as "Chemical Ali" for gassing thousands of Kurdish civilians is due to hang within the month, following the endorsement of his death sentence Friday by Iraq's presidential council. But even survivors were notably subdued about the news in a nation weary of violence and suffering.

The agreement among Iraq's three-member presidential council -- President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, along with the Sunni and Shiite vice presidents -- eliminated the last barrier before Ali Hassan al-Majid can be executed.

The presidential council spared the lives of two other Saddam aides, in what was seen as a possible attempt to appease minority Sunnis. The two men -- Hussein Rashid Mohammed, former deputy director of operations for the Iraqi armed forces, and former defense minister Sultan Hashim al-Taie -- are in U.S. custody, as is al-Majid.

The date of the execution will be determined by the Iraqi government.

A cousin of Saddam who once was an army motorcycle messenger, al-Majid rose to become a general and served as defense minister from 1991-95. He was among the most important figures in the former regime's inner circle, and was known as one of the most merciless.

Al-Majid, al-Taie and Mohammed were sentenced to death in June after being convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity for their part in Operation Anfal -- a 1987-88 crackdown on the Kurdish region that killed nearly 200,000 civilians and guerrillas.

Witnesses testified that Iraqi government forces attacked women and children, burned crops, killed livestock and forced civilians into detention camps.

Hundreds of Kurds danced in the streets last June when al-Majid was sentenced to death.

But on Friday in Halabja, a city near the Iranian border that was the scene of a notorious gas attack that killed an estimated 5,000 civilians, news that al-Majid's sentence is to be carried out was greeted with relief but not joy.

"I am glad to see Chemical Ali hanged at last and I am psychologically relieved to see the person who killed thousands of my people being punished at last," said 43-year-old Aras Abdi, who lost 12 relatives in the Halabja attack.

"On the other hand, the execution will not improve our lives. We have been neglected by the Kurdish regional government."

Another Halabja resident, Kamil Mahmoud, said he still has trouble breathing as a result of the attack.

"I was afraid that I would die without seeing Chemical Ali punished for his crimes," said Mahmoud, who lost eight family members to the gas. "But thanks to God, the time has come for Ali to see his shameful end."

Nearly five years after Saddam was toppled in the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, sectarian and insurgent violence persists.

According to an Associated Press count, at least 729 Iraqis were reported killed through Thursday in February, up from at least 610 Iraqis killed in January. At least 29 U.S. troops were killed in February, down from 40 the month before.

On Friday, gunmen kidnapped Chaldean Catholic Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho as he left Mass, police said. Ninevah provincial police Brig. Gen. Khalid Abdul-Sattar said the attackers also killed three people who were with the prelate.

An aide to Iraq's Chaldean cardinal said he did not know who seized the 65-year-old archbishop in Mosul, a northern city which the U.S. military considers an urban stronghold of al-Qaida in Iraq. Pope Benedict XVI called for Rahho's release, saying the kidnapping was an "abominable" attack.

Al-Majid would be the fifth former regime official hanged for alleged atrocities during Saddam's nearly three-decade rule.

Saddam also had been a defendant in the so-called Anfal trial, but he was hanged Dec. 30, 2006, for ordering the killings of more than 140 Shiites after a 1982 assassination attempt against him.

Prosecutor Jaafar al-Moussawi, who said he had received word of the decision from the presidential council, said there was a legal basis for executing "Chemical Ali" but not the other two officials.

An appeals court upheld the verdicts against the three men in September. But they were put on hold after Sunni leaders, including Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi, launched a campaign to spare al-Taie. Officials said al-Hashemi refused to approve the execution of al-Taie and Mohammed because he considered them career soldiers who were following orders.

President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, had also refused to sign the order against al-Taie, a Sunni who signed the cease-fire that ended the 1991 Gulf War.

Many Sunni Arabs saw al-Taie's sentence as evidence that Shiite and Kurdish officials were persecuting their once-dominant minority and as a sign of Shiite influence over the judiciary.

Few had sympathy for al-Majid, however.

"Hassan al-Majid is renowned for his brutality," said Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh, a Kurd. The case, he said, "shows that justice delayed is better than no justice."


Associated Press writers Sameer N. Yacoub in Baghdad and Yahya Barzanji in Sulaimaniyah contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Monday, April 19, 2010

Closure at last!

There is a state representative in Missouri by the name of Ken Jones whose wife and other members of surrounding counties Sheriff's departments were murdered. After so many years on death row, the murderer ended appeals and was executed. I had the opportunity to ask Mr. Jones if it brought a sense of peace or closure after all those year and he said yes.


Richard Wade Cooey II executed for McCreery, Offredo murders
By Damon Sims
October 14, 2008, 8:17PM

Richard Wade Cooey II died peacefully Tuesday with a lethal combination of drugs administered through two needles inserted gently into veins in each arm.

He was executed by the state of Ohio for the rape and murders -- by bludgeoning and strangulation -- of two college students who were not afforded such comfort in their deaths.

"It's done," said Mary Ann Hackenberg, mother of one of the victims, Dawn McCreery, who said she could sense her daughter's presence in the death chamber.

"I know she was there," she said. "I felt her there."

Cooey was sentenced to death in 1986 for the rape and murder that year of the 20-year-old McCreery and her sorority sister, Wendy Offredo, 21. He was hours away from execution when he won a reprieve in 2003. Tuesday, his appeals ran out when the U.S. Supreme Court denied his last-ditch effort.

He remained defiant even in his final statement, uttering an obscenity when Warden Phillip Collins held a microphone above his lips, before a combination of three drugs flowed through the tubes over the course of nearly 10 minutes, ending his life.

"You ... haven't paid any attention to what I've had to say over the past 22½ years, why are you going to pay attention to what I have to say now?" he said, not looking at any of the six witnesses from the McCreery family or his three lawyers and a spiritual adviser, who were witnesses.

At 10:06 a.m., a monitor in the witness viewing room flickered to life, showing Cooey lying on a gurney in a prep room adjacent to the death chamber, his feet crossed. Technicians inserted ports into veins in each arm without difficulty, despite his legal claims that his veins would be too difficult to access partly because of his obesity.

Hackenberg, of Rocky River, one of six witnesses from the McCreery family, said, "They got it," when the needle was inserted.

Cooey shouted for his lawyer, Greg Meyers, twice. Meyers, who was in the witness room along with two other lawyers and Cooey's spiritual adviser, did not move.

At 10:15 a.m., with ports inserted and his arms strapped to boards, Cooey kicked his legs, got off the gurney, and walked to the death chamber, where he climbed onto another gurney. Six guards in white strapped him down with four black straps. Tubing, which extended from the wall in the adjacent room, was connected to the ports.

At 10:19, Cooey made his final statement and drummed his fingers -- pinky to index finger -- on the board supporting his left arm. At 10:21, he exhaled with a faint noise. Warden Phillip Kerns of the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility shook Cooey's shoulder. He did not respond. By 10:28, he was dead. Sodium pentothal induced deep sleep, pancuronium bromide stopped his breathing, and potassium chloride stopped his heart.

Hackenberg threw back her head and exhaled as a curtain was drawn across the viewing window. She hugged her son, Rob McCreery, and held the hand of her ex-husband, Robert McCreery Sr. A black hearse waited outside the death house to take Cooey's body.

Dana Cole, who identified himself as Cooey's lawyer and friend and to whom Cooey's cremated remains will be given, said Cooey was an immature 19-year-old influenced by drugs and alcohol when he committed his crime.

"What we witness here today was a killing that was planned and funded for more than 22 years," he said. "The man killed was not the same man who committed the crimes."

Rob McCreery said Cooey is exactly the same, proven by his final words.

"Just being spiteful to the very end," said McCreery. "It just shows how much this was warranted and justified."

After the execution, the family talked of their relief that Cooey had finally been brought to justice and the peacefulness of his passing despite his claims that lethal injection was "cruel and unusual."

"The thing that's going to now give us the greatest comfort is knowing that he now has to be accountable to a power greater than himself and now he's got to reckon with that," said Dawn McCreery's cousin, Kathy Miska, one of the execution witnesses.

Hackenberg was at once relieved and still angry.

"It was too easy. It's as much justice as we're going to get, as much closure as we'll get, but it was just too easy," she said.

"He didn't get a free pass," said her husband, John Hackenberg.

Rob McCreery said he had hoped for the execution for so long -- he was 17 when his big sister was killed -- that he's not sure where to turn his attention now.

"But I can tell you it was a nicer day coming out of there than it was going in," he said.

Cooey is the first Ohio inmate to be executed since May 2007, the 27th since 1999.

Cooey was 19 and home on leave from the Army when, in 1986, the Akron native and an accomplice, 17-year-old Clint Dickens, raped and murdered Offredo and McCreery.

Dickens threw a chunk of concrete from an overpass onto Offredo's car, disabling it. They then drove down to the highway and picked up the women, offering to get them help. Instead, they drove them to a secluded field in Norton where they raped them, beat them with a wooden club and strangled them with shoelaces.

Dickens was sentenced to life in prison for the crimes, in which both girls suffered through more than three hours of what Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh called "fear and torture and agony." Because Dickens was still a juvenile when he committed the crime, he wasn't eligible for the death penalty.

The night before his execution, as Cooey sat on his bed or paced and slept for slightly more than an hour, Dawn McCreery's family gathered in her brother Rob's hotel room, sharing stories, watching the Browns' unexpected victory and drinking cold beers. Bevan Walsh joined them.

Rob McCreery opened a gift bag from a former Alpha Delta Pi sorority sister of Dawn and Wendy. It was a shirt with the sorority's Greek lettering, one that Dawn had actually worn. The card said it was for Rob McCreery's 5-year-old daughter.

The morning sky, still dark, was full of stars as a nearly full moon loomed over the hills of Lucasville. At breakfast in the Holiday Inn Express, someone noted that it was a harvest moon.

Perfect for execution day. "You reap what you sow," said Nicole McCreery, Rob's wife.

Elizabeth Daily, Brad's mother included the following statement: "Your honor, on behalf of all of my family, and most important, on behalf of Brad and for Brad, I ask you to carry out their sentencing with the most strict punishment allowed by law and in the most swift and timely manner."
Connecticut serial killer put to death
Ross is first to be executed in New England in 45 years

Friday, May 13, 2005 Posted: 0903 GMT (1703 HKT)

SOMERS, Connecticut (CNN) -- In New England's first execution in 45 years, the state of Connecticut put serial killer Michael Ross to death early Friday.

The 45-year-old Ross was executed for the killings of four eastern Connecticut women in the 1980s.

Ross had rejected all efforts to halt his execution, saying he wanted to die. But his father and court-appointed attorneys tried to stop the state from proceeding, claiming Ross was not competent to drop his appeals.

Christine Whidden, the warden for the Carl Robinson Correctional Institution, said Ross was put to death by lethal injection and pronounced dead at 2:25 a.m. ET at nearby Osborn Correctional Institution in Somers.

Media witnesses said Ross made no final statement, never opened his eyes and moved very little ahead of the chemicals being administered. As the drugs flowed into his veins, they said, Ross became completely still.

"Michael Ross did not have any final words," said Shelly Sindland, a reporter for WTIC in Hartford who witnessed the execution. "When asked if he wanted any final words, he said, 'No, thank you.' He did gasp for air, shuddered, and after that there was no movement whatsoever."

The execution was the first in New England since 1960, when Connecticut inmate Joseph Taborsky died in the state's electric chair. Four of the other five states in the region -- Maine, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Vermont -- have no death penalty, while New Hampshire's last execution was in 1939.

Ross admitted killing eight women -- six in Connecticut and two in New York -- as part of a crime spree in at least five states.

He was sentenced to death for killing Robin Stavinsky, April Brunais, Wendy Baribeault and Leslie Shelley in eastern Connecticut in the 1980s.

Stavinsky's sister, Debbie Dupris, said the execution did not give her the closure she was expecting to feel, but it did serve a purpose.

"Finally justice has been served," Dupris said, "and I know that our sister, Robin Dawn Stavinsky, is looking down upon us at this moment, and I know that she will rest easier knowing that the person who ended her life no longer has the privilege of having his own."

All of Ross' victims were 14 to 25 years old when he strangled them to death. He admitting raping all but one of them.

Dzong Tu, a Vietnam-born graduate student in economics at Cornell University in New York, is believed to have been Ross' first murder victim. Her death followed a string of rapes on campus in the spring of 1981. Ross also was a student at the university.

"We will always miss my sister," said Lan Tu, Dzong's brother, "and I feel that this was only (a) small measure of justice for the pain that Michael Ross caused our family and the loss, but it is an ending."

Edwin Shelley, whose daughter Leslie Shelley was killed by Ross along with her best friend in 1984, said the convicted killer got what he deserved.

"We have waited 21 years for justice, and I would like to thank the jury in Bridgeport, the jury in New London, and finally the state of Connecticut for finally giving us the justice that our children are due."

Preceding the execution, a string of last-minute appeals failed.

The U.S. Supreme Court late Thursday denied a pair of appeals by family members to postpone the execution.

Earlier in the day, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals also turned down the family's effort to delay the execution, rejecting a motion filed by Ross' sister, Donna Dunham.

Ahead of the scheduled execution, about 400 people carrying anti-death penalty signs quietly marched toward the prison where Ross was to executed.

T.R. Paulding, Ross' private attorney, said Ross repeatedly invoked his right to die and asked that his wishes be respected. If a full round of appeals were allowed, it most likely would prevent his client's execution, he had said.

Ross' relatives argued he was suffering from "death row syndrome," in which a person's mental state is degraded by being on death row for a long period -- causing a person to think it would be better to die.

Slaying victim's family ready for killer's execution
By Michelle Mondo- Express-News
Web Posted: 10/25/2009 12:00 CDT
Reginald Blanton wants to die without an audience.

“I don’t want to put my mama through that,” said the 28-year-old death row inmate, whose execution is scheduled for Tuesday. “I don’t want no one to see that.”

But Blanton, condemned for the robbery and shooting death of an acquaintance, doesn’t have a choice: The family of Carlos Garza plans to watch as Blanton is strapped to a gurney inside Texas’ death chamber and administered a lethal injection.

“I want to watch him breathe his last breath,” Irene Garza said of the man convicted of killing her 22-year-old son, Carlos Garza, whose body was found nine years ago in a pool of blood, two gunshots to his head.

Barring last-minute intervention from Gov. Rick Perry, Blanton will become the third condemned man from Bexar County and the 19th statewide to die this year. His appeals have been denied, and the U.S. Supreme Court this year declined to hear his case.

Still, on Oct. 8 Blanton filed a petition for clemency — the use of executive power to reduce, forgive or delay a sentence. In nearly nine years as Texas governor, Perry has only once delayed an execution and has never spared a life based on a claim of innocence, records show. Under his watch, the state has executed 200 inmates.

Garza’s family waits for closure. Gathered recently at the East Side home of a relative, they recalled Garza’s spirit and how much they have missed him over the years. More relatives want to witness the execution than are allowed, and the family has to whittle the list. So far, those who will be in the chamber include Garza’s mother and three sisters.

“It won’t bring my brother back,” said Sulema Balverde, 34, Garza’s older sister. “But it will bring him justice.”

Irene Garza, 54, said she understands the pain Blanton’s mom must feel.

“It wasn’t her fault her son did what he did,” she said. “She’s going to miss her son the way I miss my son. But we didn’t cause these problems. My son was a good boy.”

Something to steal

A jury of eight women and four men took 12 hours to convict Blanton of the April 2000 slaying and a day and a half to render a death sentence. According to testimony at his trial, Blanton drove to Garza’s West Side apartment, looking for something to steal. Prosecutors said he kicked in the victim’s door and shot Garza twice in the head when he refused to hand over his jewelry.

Within 20 minutes of the killing, prosecutors told the jury, Blanton was videotaped at a local pawnshop hawking two gold necklaces that belonged to Garza. And when he was arrested, Blanton was wearing items — a lion’s head ring and a bracelet — that had belonged to Garza.

His twin brother, Robert Blanton, and Latoya Mayberry, then Robert Blanton’s girlfriend, told police that Reginald Blanton was responsible for the killing, and they described to detectives how he had sold the jewelry — statements that later became a source of disagreement among those who believe that the statements were coerced and that Blanton was wrongly convicted.

During a 45-minute interview nearly two weeks ago in Huntsville, Blanton maintained his innocence. But he said he wasn’t hopeful that his life would be spared.

“I’m not confident in the commutation process,” he said in the interview, during which he was both energetic and soft-spoken, pausing infrequently.

Still, he said, he was “trying to stay spiritually strong.”

During his time on death row, Blanton has proved adept at using the media to try to sway public opinion. On his MySpace and Facebook pages, as well as anti-death penalty Web sites, Blanton portrays himself as a wrongfully convicted human rights activist. He has published letters, documents, photos and “peaceful protest” videos in which he refuses to go back to his cell.

Helping with much of the online work is Blanton’s 47-year-old British fiancee, Sandie Staf, who manages the sites from her home in Somerset, England.

“There’s something (going online) every day, even if it’s just putting out bulletins,” Staf said.

Death row pen pals

An anti-death penalty advocate who has been writing to U.S. death row inmates for seven years, Staf met Blanton through other condemned pen pals. She said a British television show is chronicling her relationship with Blanton.

She helps Blanton’s older brother Andre Bios and his mother in their efforts to save Blanton. This month, Bios organized a protest in front of the Bexar County Courthouse. After the protest, he didn’t return repeated phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

Staf said she believes in Reginald Blanton’s innocence, although she said she neither attended his trial nor read the police file or trial transcripts, all of which refute many of Blanton’s statements, including that the statements made by Mayberry and his brother were coerced.

Mayberry could not be located for comment. Robert Blanton is serving two years in jail on a drug charge.

Meanwhile, Garza’s family waits for Tuesday.

A cousin, Anthony Ortiz, 28, often stayed at Garza’s apartment. He still wonders what might have happened had he been there the day Garza was slain. After the shooting, he helped clean up after his cousin’s body was taken from the residence on Skolout Street.

Ortiz can still remember how evidence technicians cut a bloodied piece of carpet. A mirror hanging on a wall was shattered by a bullet, and Ortiz took what was left and hung it on his own wall. Later, he sat by it and cried.

Garza’s son, just 4 at the time of his father’s slaying, has grown into a teenager. Now 14, he struggles to remember the man the rest of his family so easily recalls. He didn’t get to know Garza, but he misses him nonetheless.

“I feel it should happen,” Carlos Daniel Garza said of Tuesday’s execution, nodding his head. “So my dad can finally rest in peace. Finally.”

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Eruptions of joy, anger and anti-US protests

Shias and Kurds greet verdict with celebratory gunfire while the Sunnis talk of seeking revenge for the 'son of Iraq'

Jubilation in Sadr City after the Saddam verdict. Photograph: Karim Kadim/AP

Reaction to the verdict was divided along ethnic and sectarian lines, with many once-dominant Sunni Arabs expressing sympathy for Saddam, who is also Sunni, and long-oppressed Shia and Kurds celebrating.

Shia Arabs

Celebratory gunfire erupted in the Shia city of Dujail moments after the verdict was announced as residents took to the streets in defiance of the curfew, carrying photographs of loved ones they said were lost during the 1982 crackdown.

Abdul Zahara Hatow, 80, who bears the scars of torture from the time he was rounded up by mukhabarat officers, said, "I would like today to raise my shirt and show the whole world what the regime did to me. I feel that this sentence will be like a bandage to my wounds."

Hussein al Haydari, another Dujail resident, said: "We've been waiting for justice since 1982, but today is great day for the people of Dujail."

There were similar demonstrations of support for the verdict in the mostly Shia port city of Basra, and other cities in the south, including Kut, Hilla, Najaf and Amarah. In Basra, Karima Mohamed Ali, 55, said her son, Hayder, was killed by Saddam's security forces during the Shia uprising in 1991. "Nothing can bring him back. Executing Saddam will be some compensation for my son's murder," she said through tears.

In Baghdad's huge impoverished Shia district of Sadr city, tens of thousands took to the streets to celebrate, also in defiance of the total curfew. Sadr issued a call to his followers, who have been accused of orchestrating attacks on Sunnis, to keep the peace and said any violence against Sunnis would be considered treason. "You are called upon now to perform a thanksgiving prayer," said a statement broadcast from local mosques.

Abdul Aziz al Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, and head of the ruling Shia alliance, praised the verdict and urged Iraqis to unite: "I hope the verdict will bring closure to this tragic and brutal episode in Iraqi history. We must never forget and we must always be vigilant never to let tyranny rise here in Iraq ever again - but it's time to move on."

Sunni Arabs

In Tikrit, Saddam's hometown, hundreds of protesters defied the curfew by marching along a main street, clutching palm fronds, waving Iraqi flags and photos of their former leader, chanting: "You are still the son of Iraq, we will avenge you."

A number of masked gunmen fired kalashnikovs from surrounding rooftops. Sheikh Fawas Hamed al Tikriti, one of the city's leading figures, said the verdict was "arbitrary and politicised" and would provoke violence. "It is all in the interests of the US elections, and this will not pass without revenge," he said.

Ali Salem, 35, a government employee who had come to show support from the nearby city of Samarra, said: "The verdict is unfair and illegal under the occupation and it serves the political interests of the governing parties in Iraq." Ali al Harbawi, a lecturer at Tikrit university, said: "I express my anger and total rejection at this unfair verdict. The tribunal is unacceptable and illegal."

Support for Saddam could be found from the deserts of western Iraq, the insurgents' heartland, to the streets of Mansour, a middle class neighbourhood in western Baghdad. Many disaffected Sunnis said they saw the trial as a conspiracy by Iran and the US, aimed not just at Saddam, but all of Iraq's Sunni Arabs.

In Baghdad's al-Qahira neighbourhood, Mohammed Qasir, said: "This verdict is from treacherous people and foreign agents, not a verdict from the real Iraqi people. I tell Saddam Hussein that they will never assassinate the voice of truth. I don't mean to say I love Saddam. I'm just making a comparison between the old regime and the government today."

Leading Sunni political figures were forthright in their condemnation. Salah al-Mutlaq, who heads the second largest Sunni bloc in parliament, part of the government of national unity, said the verdict would spark even greater bloodshed. "This government will be responsible for the consequences, with the deaths of hundreds, thousands or even hundreds of thousands," he said.

There were armed clashes between residents and Iraqi security forces in the Baghdad Sunni stronghold of Adhamiya, as well as attacks in the western town of Fallujah.


There was celebratory gunfire in the Kurdish neighbourhoods of the contested city of Kirkuk, but inside the northern Kurdish self-rule region, where heavy mountain rain may have helped to dampen festivities, the reaction was one of quiet satisfaction rather than outright jubilation.

Many Iraqi Kurds said they were waiting for their day in court with the ongoing Anfal trial, in which Saddam and six other former officials are accused of genocide for their part in the murder of more than 50,000 Kurds during the notorious 1988 Anfal operation. Kurds are also hoping to see Saddam face justice for his alleged role in the gassing of Halabja, also in 1988.

In Sulaymaniyah, Nabaz Munzir, 37, who works in a cement factory, said: "It is like a dream came true, it is the best verdict. I say this deep from my heart. This is the best verdict because at least 40 to 42 million Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan are happy about it."

Salar Ahmed Sultan, 31, a documentary film director, said: "Personally, I don't like the death penalty. That's why I want life sentences for Saddam and his aides, not execution."

Kurdish leaders expressed their confidence that the Anfal trial would continue, even if Saddam were to be executed before its conclusion. "Today justice has spoken, and I am happy for the grieving families in Dujail," said Fuad Hussein, a senior aide to the Kurdistan regional president, Massoud Barzani. "But we as Kurds need to see justice. The Anfal has become part of our identity."

He predicted that the execution of Saddam would not deliver an end to violence in Iraq, but it would be "a severe blow to those Ba'athists who cherished hopes of one day returning to power."

Iraqi exiles in London

By yesterday afternoon, a small cross-section of Britain's tens of thousands of Iraqis had gathered in the cafes on London's Edgware Road to sip coffee and debate the verdict. Akhausran Ramadan, 31, an Iraqi Kurd visiting her brother, said she was delighted. "Everyone who died under his dirty hands can lie safe in their grave," she said.

Across the road, in Palms Palace cafe, run by Iraqi Kurds, the mood was more resigned. "I'm not in a mood for a party," said Aziz Majeed, 29, from Irbil. "What difference is his execution going to make to the chaos in Iraq? I hate Saddam, of course I do. But I can't blame him for the current situation - my country has been turned into the most dangerous place on earth. Where is the freedom the Americans promised?"

It was a concern shared by Mazim Younis, who runs the Iraqi League, an anti-war exile group. "The verdict won't halt the destruction - if anything, it will make the situation worse. Iraq used to have one dictator. Now we have 20."

· Additional reporting: Salaam Jihad and Zaineb Naji, Baghdad; Dawood Salman, Anbar province; Jasim al Sabawy, Tikrit and Hawija; Ammar al-Salih, Basra

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Four Sudan Islamists to hang for murder of US diplomat whom judge called a dhimmi

Posted on October 14, 2009 by pnaction
del.icio.us Tags: Four Sudan Islamists to hang for murder of US diplomat whom judge called a dhimmi
A fitting update to this previous Creeping Sharia post on the murder of an American USAID worker and his driver by Muslims.

KHARTOUM — A Sudanese court sentenced four Islamists to death for a second time on Monday for the murder of a US diplomat and his driver in Khartoum last year.

The sentencing came after the mother of John Granville, who worked with the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and the wife of driver Abdel Rahman Abbas both demanded the men be executed.

Granville and Abbas were returning from a New Year’s celebration in 2008 when the gunmen opened fire on their car, riddling them both with bullets.

“The murder of a person is as illegal from the point of view of shariah (Islamic law) as it is in Sudanese criminal law,” the judge, Said Ahmed al-Badri, said when announcing the sentence.

The court had condemned the men to death in June for the New Year’s Day murders of Granville and Abbas but the sentences were cancelled in August after Abbas’s father forgave the men.

Under Islamic law, the victim’s family has the right to forgive the murderer, ask for compensation or demand execution.

Granville’s mother, Jane Granville, at the time had asked for the men’s execution but her letter was rejected because it was not notarised. A new letter was submitted by her and read out by a court prosecutor on Sunday.

On Monday, Abbas’s wife appeared before the court to demand the death penalty for the four convicts.

One of the defendants, Mohammed Osman Yusef, shouted after sentencing: “You cannot killed a Muslim because he killed a Christian.”

Dressed in a traditional white robe, the bearded Yusef, a former military officer, also accused the United States of killing Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The four Islamists now sentenced to death, seen outside the Khartoum court in June

The four Islamists now sentenced to death, seen outside the Khartoum court in June

“Islamic law condemns murder, regardless of the nationality or religion (of the victim,” the judge said. Some Muslim scholars say a Muslim can be punished, but not executed, for killing a non-Muslim.

The judge added that according to Islamic law Granville was a “dhimmi” in Sudan, referring to the status of non-Muslims in an Islamic state that affords them protection and a waiver from army service, in return for a tax.

Sudanese law does not recognise non-Muslims in the country as dhimmis.

One of the four condemned men is the son of a leader of pacifist Islamist group Ansar al-Sunna, which is linked to Salafism — a hardline form of Sunni Islam practised mainly in Saudi Arabia — but is not involved in politics.

A group calling itself Ansar al-Tawhid had claimed the New Year’s Day murder according to SITE, a US-based organisation which monitors Islamist websites.

It said the murder was in response to attempts to raise the banner of Christianity over Sudan, the largest country in Africa.

Federal Bureau of Investigation officers from the United States had helped to investigate the killings which sent shockwaves through the sizeable Western community in Khartoum, a city usually considered one of the safest in Africa.

via AFP: Four Sudan Islamists to hang for US diplomat murder.

UPI also reports:

They called their victim an “infidel.” Judge Sayed Ahmed Al-Badry quoted Islamic texts denouncing killing both Muslims and non-Muslims as he upheld the death sentence, Voice of America reported.

The allah akhbar shouting defendants also spit in the faces of a Western reporters wife and her friend in an earlier court appearance (link).


Monday, April 12, 2010

Iraq: Mild Reaction To Chemical Ali's Sentence Is Telling

June 27, 2007
By Sumedha Senanayake

Chemical Ali's death sentence did not evoke the same reactions as when Saddam Hussein was sentenced (file photo) (epa)

Chemical Ali's death sentence did not evoke the same reactions as when Saddam Hussein was sentenced (file photo) (epa)
June 27, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The death sentence handed down by the Iraqi
High Tribunal on June 24 against Ali Hasan al-Majid, also known as
"Chemical Ali" for his use of chemical weapons against the Kurds, for
his role in the Anfal campaign elicited a surprising response among
those who both loathed and applauded him.
In contrast to the near circus-like atmosphere that swept Sunni, Shi'ite, and Kurdish communities after former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death, the sentencing of al-Majid, the former secretary-general of the northern bureau of Iraq's Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party and Hussein's cousin, for his role in the 1987-88 campaign against the Kurds was greatly subdued.

This shift in Iraqis' reactions to the sentencing is perhaps a telling indication of where the collective Iraqi psyche is four years after the fall of Baghdad.

Kurds Welcome Verdict, Quietly

Reactions to the death sentence fell along the predictable sectarian and ethnic lines, though it was fairly muted on both sides. In Irbil, capital of the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, reports indicated that Kurds overwhelmingly welcomed the sentence, although the intensity of their joy paled in comparison to the death sentence Hussein received in the Al-Dujayl trial, when Kurds flooded the streets in jubilation.

Even statements by prominent Kurdish officials regarding the sentences were scarce. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih issued a statement on June 25 hailing the verdicts in the Anfal trial, but also used the occasion to underscore the Kurds' desire for federalism, the Kurdish daily "Aso" reported.

"Chemical Ali and other criminals should become an example for all those thinking of persecuting and threatening our people," Salih said. "The occasion of sentencing the criminals gives us the opportunity to insist on our legitimate struggle for a democratic and federal Iraq that can secure the country's future, so that the dreadful days of Anfal, chemical bombardments, and mass graves will not occur again," he added.

However, there were mixed reactions in the Kurdish town of Halabjah, where 5,000 people were believed to have been gassed in 1988. Those killings were not part of the Anfal trial, but will be the focus of a separate trial to be scheduled at an unspecified date.

Many residents of Halabjah fear that with the conclusion of the Anfal trial, combined with the execution of Hussein and scheduled execution of al-Majid, they may never get to see justice. Muhammad Faraj, the director of the Halabjah Chemical Victims Association, worried that the atrocities committed in Halabjah may never fully be recognized, slate.com reported on June 25. "We see ourselves as martyrs because we see ourselves as already dead," Faraj said. "We are dead because the world does not recognize our suffering."

Sunnis Condemn It, Quietly

On the other hand, Sunnis were even more subdued. There were no reports of the pro-Ba'athist demonstrations or confrontations with security forces that were reported after Hussein's sentencing. In fact, the lack of any visible unease within the Sunni community may be an indication that many believed that the verdict and the sentencing were a forgone conclusion.

Saddam Hussein inspired more passionate reactions (epa file photo)

Saddam Hussein inspired more passionate reactions (epa file photo)
After the fiasco that ensued following Hussein's execution, where an illicit video showed the former Iraqi leader being verbally taunted by several guards, and the "botched" hanging of former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Sunnis may have come to feel resigned to being victims of a vindictive government.

However, Ba'ath Party spokesman Abu Muhammad issued a statement on Al-Jazeera television on June 24 depicting al-Majid and his co-defendants as courageous men who sacrificed much to defend Iraq, but were now being sentenced to death on unjust charges by an illegal court. "This trial is invalid because it has taken place under an unjust occupation of Iraq and the destruction of the state. The great crime is the crime of occupying Iraq," Muhammad said.

The anger expressed by the Ba'ath Party is all the more biting, considering that the Shi'ite-led Iraqi government has yet to make significant moves toward revising the de-Ba'athification law that could allow thousands of ex-Ba'athists to return to their jobs. Many U.S. and Sunni officials believe this would give a boost to national reconciliation by enticing former Ba'athists, who are believed to form the backbone of the nationalist insurgency, to lay down their weapons and enter the political process.

Muted Coverage Reflects The Times

Coverage of the Anfal sentencing was fairly muted in the Iraqi press, particularly when compared with the media frenzy when Hussein was sentenced to death in November 2006. Reports from the courtroom indicated that only a few Iraqi journalists were present when the Anfal sentencing was read, and none from Iraq's Kurdish papers.

While the Kurdish press lauded the death sentence handed down to al-Majid and his two co-defendants, the collective euphoria that was expressed in the Shi'ite and Kurdish communities after Hussein's sentencing in the Al-Dujayl trial was clearly absent.

One reason for this is the absence of Hussein, himself a defendant in the Anfal trial, who was executed in December. Hussein, more than any other single figure, came to symbolize the ruthlessness and repression of the former regime in the eyes of the Kurds and Shi'a. And for them, his absence from the latter stages of the trial and the sentencing perhaps made many in those communities lose interest.

Indeed, the laborious trial, which lasted nearly 10 months, may have taken its toll on the interest within the Kurdish and Shi'ite communities. Following the Al-Dujayl trial that lasted over a year, Iraqis may have become weary of the spectacle of prominent figures of the former regime being on trial.

However, a more cynical reading may be that Iraqis, in general, have other more pressing issues to deal with, namely the daily carnage and chaos that plagues their country. Even Iraqis, who were once persecuted by the former Ba'athist regime, are now perhaps too worn down by the seemingly unending cycle of suicide bombings and sectarian killings to be concerned about obtaining justice for crimes that were committed by the former government.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Relieved Bali bombing victims want chapter closed

* By Michelle Cazzulino
* From: The Daily Telegraph
* October 30, 2008 12:00AM

AUSTRALIAN victims of the Bali bombings yesterday expressed relief that Indonesia was finally preparing to carry out death sentences against the mass murderers.

The three - Amrozi, Mukhlas and Imam Samudra - will face a firing squad, possibly as soon as Saturday, for their involvement in the 2002 Sari Club terror attacks which killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

Perth-based football manager Simon Quayle, who lost seven teammates in the blast, said although the executions had been a long time coming, it was important that the sentences were carried out as ordered.

"In regard to the shooting and their deaths, it's fantastic that justice is being served and that's pretty much what I am feeling," he said.

"I think it's a reflection of good police work on the part of the Indonesians and the fact that justice is being carried out."

Although six years had passed since the bombing, the emotional and physical scars remained.

"I don't have any anger or need for revenge but . . . I can imagine that it'll be a really important occasion for parents who've lost their children and people who've lost close relatives, who think about them every day," Mr Quayle said.

"Those people will be very, very happy and celebrating hard.

"I'm more about the signs of justice. If justice would've (meant) a sentence of life imprisonment and it was carried out, I would've been satisfied. But I still think terrorists should get the death penalty."

Tracey Ball, who sustained burns to 30 per cent of her body in the bombings, said she had mixed feelings. "I'm trying not to think about it too much - I'd rather just know that it's finally done," she said.

"I think we've got to send the message somehow that we're not going to put up with terrorism but, at the same time, I'm not going to celebrate someone being put to death because that's not the person I am."

Ms Ball said although she would never fully put the bombings behind her, she would be glad when Indonesia carried out the death sentences.

"I think I'll be just relieved when it's finally done," she said.

"There's no such thing as closure but at the moment (the issue) just keeps coming up. Once it's done, it's done and I'll be just grateful for the fact that it's finally over."