Iraq executes 36 men convicted of massacring soldiers
Outrage over Isis’ killing of 1,700 troops in 2014 prompted mobilisation of Shia militias
Iraqi security forces escort a man sentenced to death over the mass killing of hundreds of mainly Shia soldiers at a former US base two years ago: A local official criticised the executions saying some of the men had been tortured to extract confessions. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters
Iraq has executed 36 men convicted of taking part in the Islamic State group’s massacre of hundreds of soldiers in 2014, officials said.
The men were hanged at the Nasiriyah prison in southern Iraq on Sunday, according to provincial governor Yahya al-Nasiri.
A Justice Ministry official confirmed the executions.
Islamic State captured an estimated 1,700 soldiers after seizing Saddam Hussein’s home town of Tikrit in 2014.
The soldiers were trying to flee from nearby Camp Speicher, a former US base just outside the city.
Shortly after taking Tikrit, Islamic State, which is also known as Isis, posted graphic images of gunmen shooting the men dead after forcing them to lie face down in a shallow ditch.
The Speicher massacre sparked outrage across Iraq and partially stimulated the mobilisation of Shia militias in the fight against Islamic State. The militias now rival the power of Iraq’s conventional armed forces.
Iraqi forces arrested dozens of men allegedly linked to the massacre after retaking Tikrit in 2015 with the help of US-led air strikes .
The men executed on Sunday were sentenced to death by an Iraqi court earlier this year.
Some of them “were not even present at the scene of the crime”, Ahmed al-Karim said.
“We support the death penalty for those who committed crimes,” but “the use of violence and torture [in Iraqi prisons] should be investigated”.
Prime minister Haider al-Abadi has attempted to fast track the implementation of death sentences following a series of large-scale bombings in and around Baghdad in recent months.
The United Nations criticised that policy earlier this month, saying that “given the weakness of the Iraqi justice system” the rushed sentences risk causing “greater injustice”.
Iraq ranks among the top five countries in the world in the use of capital punishment, according to figures compiled by the rights group Amnesty International.