Thirty-six ISIS-connected men convicted of massacring hundreds of soldiers in 2014 have were hanged in the Dhi Qar Province of Iraq. The massacre followed ISIS's capture of Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.
“This is simple restitution to the martyrs’ families,” said Yahiya al-Nasiri, governor of Dhi Qar Province, reports The New York Times. “Today, the Iraqi judicial system did its work. Today is an important day for the families, to see the people who killed their sons executed in front of their eyes.”
But third-party observers have long been critical of Iraq’s capital punishment system.
“Given the weaknesses of the Iraqi justice system, and the current environment in Iraq, I am gravely concerned that innocent people have been and may continue to be convicted and executed, resulting in gross, irreversible miscarriages of justice,” Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, wrote in an August statement. “Fast-tracking executions will only accelerate injustice.”
“The criminal justice system remains critically flawed in Iraq,” Amnesty International stated in July. “Trials, particularly of defendants facing charges under the anti-terrorism law and possible death sentences, can be grossly unfair, with courts often admitting torture-tainted evidence, including when defendants recant their ‘confessions’ in court.”
ISIS forces captured roughly 1,700 soldiers when it overran the formerly U.S.-controlled Camp Speicher military base in 2014. The group then released video of the soldiers lined up and gunned down in shallow trenches, notes The Associated Press.
Ahmed al-Karim, head of the provincial council in Salahuddin province, which includes Tikrit, claimed some of the men executed Aug. 21 may have been innocent and only confessed when tortured, notes the AP.
Some of the men "were not even present at the scene of the crime," al-Karim told the AP. "We support the death penalty for those who committed crimes," but "the use of violence and torture (in Iraqi prisons) should be investigated."