Iraq court hands death sentence to assassin of journalists covering protests

"The criminal confessed to all the details of this crime," the court said in its ruling.
Al-Dijla channel news correspondent Ahmad Abdul Samad (L) and photographer Safaa Ghali, assassinated Jan. 11, 2021, while they were covering protests in Iraq’s Basra. (Photo: Archive)
Al-Dijla channel news correspondent Ahmad Abdul Samad (L) and photographer Safaa Ghali, assassinated Jan. 11, 2021, while they were covering protests in Iraq’s Basra. (Photo: Archive)

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq's Basra Criminal Court on Monday handed a death sentence to a man convicted on the charge of murdering two Iraqi journalists in early 2020.

The incident occurred on Jan. 11, 2020, when a gunman assassinated al-Dijla channel news correspondent Ahmad Abdul Samad and photographer Safaa Ghali while they were covering protests in Iraq's Basra.

Before his assassination, Abdul Samad had posted a video clip on his social media accounts, in which he talked about threats he was receiving from militias because of his criticism of Iran-backed factions and parties.

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"The criminal confessed to all the details of this crime," read a statement from the Iraqi Supreme Judicial Council. The suspect also admitted that the assassinations aimed to "destabilize" the country and "spread terror in the hearts of people and demonstrators."

The ruling issued is considered preliminary and subject to appeal within 30 days from the date of its issuance. After that, it will be submitted to the Iraqi president for approval.

Abdul Samad was an Iraqi journalist and reporter from Basra, known for his opposition to pro-Iranian parties. He covered the demonstrations in Basra and the rest of Iraq's cities from October 2019 until his killing.

Following the ruling, activists circulated a video showing Abdul Samad's mother expressing her happiness with the court's "just" verdict.

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According to government data, more than 600 individuals, including demonstrators and security personnel, were killed during the protests in Baghdad and the central and southern cities. Among the victims were dozens of activists assassinated by unknown persons, with allegations leveled at Iranian-backed militias.