Two Iraqis jailed for life for UN bombing, French kidnap

The men confessed to being members of Islamic Army, a Sunni militant group.

Baghdad: A court sentenced two Iraqis to life in jail on Wednesday for taking part in the 2003 bombing of the UN headquarters in Baghdad and the kidnap of two French journalists a year later.

The men, identified only by the initials RAA and MAA, confessed to being members of the Islamic Army, a Sunni militant group, and taking part in the bombing of the United Nations headquarters, the court said.

"They were sentenced ... after they confessed to belonging to the Islamic Army and carrying out terrorist activity," said a statement from the Supreme Judicial Council, which administers judicial affairs in Iraq.

"This is an initial sentence, subject to appeal."

It said the pair was also convicted of involvement in the assassination of an adviser to one of Iraq`s finance ministers but did not give details.

The August 19, 2003 bombing which killed UN special representative Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 of his colleagues marked the start of an escalating wave of attacks blamed on al Qaeda and other insurgent groups.

And on August 20, 2004, freelance journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot were kidnapped in a confessionally mixed area south of Baghdad known as the "triangle of death" for its high rate of ambushes and kidnappings.

They were eventually released by the Islamic Army and returned home to Paris in December that same year.