ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A Baghdad court on Wednesday announced it had sentenced two men to death for abducting a “former Egyptian Ambassador” to Iraq, an apparent reference to a 2005 killing that was claimed by al-Qaeda.
The Karkh Criminal Court “reviewed the case of two convicted [persons] who confessed to [the] kidnapping of the former Egyptian Ambassador in Nafq al-Shurta neighborhood and then to the al-Amiriya neighborhood and from there to al-Fallujah,” began a statement released by the legal body.
The statement gave no further details on the identity of the abductee, but one such incident occurred early in 2005, just two years after the US overthrow of the government of Saddam Hussein and amid an ongoing insurgency and countrywide instability.
Ambassador Ihab al-Sharif was Egypt’s top diplomat to Iraq then and had formerly served as his country’s chargé d’affaires to Israel. On July 3, 2005, he was kidnapped near his Baghdad residence by a gang affiliated with the prominent terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the frontman for al-Qaeda in Iraq, which later became the Islamic State.
Days after getting picked up, Sharif was murdered by his captors, as announced by the terrorist group in a video online. Shortly afterward, US troops arrested two people they alleged had been responsible for the killing. There were also attacks that week in Baghdad on top diplomats from both Bahrain and Pakistan.
“The court found the evidence and confessions sufficient to issue a death sentence by hanging until death," read the statement, which specified that articles 3, 4, and 6 of the Iraqi Penal Code were used to sentence the defendants.
The relevant provisions allow for such a crime to be punishable by death if the offense is committed “by two or more persons or by a person openly carrying a weapon,” or “the period of seizure, detention or deprivation of freedom exceeds 15 days,” or “if the offense is committed against a public official or agent in the execution of his duty or employment or as a consequence of it.”
International humanitarian and human rights organizations, including the United Nations and Human Rights Watch, say efforts by Iraqi authorities to speed up the implementation of death sentences could lead to the execution of innocent people, especially with the nation’s poor standards of criminal justice.
The death penalty in Iraq was suspended on June 10, 2003, but was reinstated the following year.
Editing by John J. Catherine