Iraq hangs Saddam's deputy

Saddam Hussein’s former deputy was hanged before dawn today for his part in the killings of 148 Shiites, despite appeals from international human rights groups.

Saddam Hussein’s former deputy was hanged before dawn today for his part in the killings of 148 Shiites, despite appeals from international human rights groups.

Taha Yassin Ramadan, 69, who was Saddam’s vice president when the regime was ousted nearly four years ago, is the fourth man to be executed for the killings that followed a 1982 assassination attempt against the former leader in the town of Dujail, north of Baghdad.

A member of the prime minister’s office, who witnessed the hanging but spoke anonymously because he was not authorised to disclose the information, said precautions were taken to prevent a repeat of what happened to Saddam’s half-brother and co-defendant, Barzan Ibrahim, who was inadvertently decapitated on the gallows during his January execution.

Ramadan was weighed before the hanging and the length of the rope was chosen accordingly, the official said.

The execution took place at a prison at an Iraqi army and police base which had been the headquarters of Saddam’s military intelligence, in a predominantly Shiite district in northern Baghdad. Ramadan had been in US custody but was handed over to the Iraqis about an hour before the hanging, the official said.

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