Baghdad: An Iraqi court on Thursday sentenced
15 alleged al Qaeda members to death for their role in the
2006 wedding party massacre of 70 people, considered one of
the most horrific attacks carried out by Sunni-led militants
during the insurgency.
The defendants were convicted of planning and carrying
out the attack in the mainly Shiite town of Dujail, Iraqi
Supreme Judicial Council spokesman Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar said.
Dujail is located 50 miles north of Baghdad and is
surrounded by Sunni areas that were under the thumb of
al-Qaida operatives at that time.
Since the defendants` arrest last month, Iraqi state
TV has been airing the defendants` confessions in what is seen
as an attempt by the embattled Shiite Prime Minister, Nouri
al-Maliki to show that he is protecting the country.
"The court completed today all its procedures
properly," Bayrkdar told a news agency in a phone
interview after the half-day trial.
"It was open for public and the convicted had the
chance to talk land enter their plea," he added.
A number of international human rights organisations
have been questioning whether the proceedings of Iraqi courts
comply with international standards for fairness. The 15 have
a month to appeal the death sentences.