First executions in post-Saddam Iraq held in Baghdad

Thursday, September 1, 2005

Iraq has carried out the first executions since the demise of the Saddam Hussein regime. Three men convicted of murder were hanged on Thursday morning in Baghdad.

The Iraqi government argues that the death penalty will help to deter criminals but spokesman Laith Kubba admitted that "this is not an easy thing to do".

Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is personally opposed to capital punishment and stated that he would never sign a death sentence, not even against Saddam Hussein himself. His deputy Adel Abdel Mehdi signed the warrant instead.

Human rights groups and the United Nations had hoped Iraq would refrain from using the death penalty against its citizens and urged the government not to carry out the sentences.

The three men, named as Bayan Ahmed Said, Ouday Dawood Salman and Dhahar Jasim Hassan were convicted of murdering three policemen in the city of Kut, Wasit province. Additional crimes include kidnapping and rape .