ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – An Iraqi court on Sunday sentenced to death yet another “terrorist” who was accused of partaking in the 2008 murder of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, one of the most famous and respected bishops of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Mosul, Nineveh.
In late February 2008, Rahho was kidnapped by gunmen who intercepted his car in al-Nour neighborhood and killed his two guards and driver, east of Mosul.
The incident occurred just after the 65-year-old bishop ended his prayers in his church, at a time when Christians were the target of insurgents throughout Iraq.
The kidnappers had demanded a ransom for the bishop’s release. But the money was not paid and, reportedly, Rahho had called his church demanding the money not be handed over.
“He believed that this money would not be paid for good works and would be used for killing and more evil actions,” church officials had said, according to the New York Times.
In March, the bishop’s body was found buried in a shallow grave near Mosul, and security forces promptly arrested many suspects.
Upon the inspection of his body, Raho’s exact cause of death was not apparent since he had a history of health problems.
The incident drew condemnation from the Vatican and foreign governments including the United States.
Just two months after in 2008, Iraq announced the death sentence of Ahmed Ali Ahmed, known as Abu Omar, who, then Iraqi government spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh, said was a leader of al-Qaida in the country.
A spokesperson for the Supreme Judicial Council, Judge Abdul Sattar Birqdar, said in a statement that the Central Criminal Court considered the case and handed the “terrorist” the death penalty.
The statement did not mention the individual’s name.
Birqdar added that the convict had asked Rahho’s church in Mosul to “pay 50,000 dollars for his release,” but the church did not comply with his request at the time.
“The death sentence against the terrorist comes on the basis of the provisions of article 4 of the anti-terrorism law,” he said.
Christians in Iraq have been subjected to increasing rates of violence since 2003, prompting many to move to the Kurdistan Region while others left to Europe and America for security. Iraq’s Christian population is believed to have nearly halved since the fall of Saddam Hussein.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany