Dozens mourn slain Iraqi journalist
Baghdad - Dozens of people turned out on Friday to mourn Hadi al-Mehdi, an Iraqi journalist who sharply criticised the government on his radio programme, who was gunned down with a silenced weapon in central Baghdad.
"The silenced weapon assassinates everything in my country," mourners chanted as they marched with a symbolic coffin draped in an Iraqi flag from Mehdi's home in Karrada in central Baghdad to Tahrir Square.
Protests calling for improved public services, which Mehdi supported, were being held at the square on Friday.
"The martyr was one of the activists in the movement against corruption and the curbing of rights and freedoms, through Facebook and through demonstrations in Tahrir Square," activist Zahir al-Jamaa said.
"He was always stressing the need to reject any violation of the constitution and the law."
Hattem Hashem, a mourner who had an Iraqi flag draped over his shoulders, said: "The voice of Hadi will not be silenced, despite his assassination with a silenced weapon".
Symbolic coffin left behind
The mourners, who also carried photographs of Mehdi, were prevented by security forces from continuing with the symbolic coffin, and had to leave it behind.
An interior ministry official said on Thursday that Mehdi was shot dead at about 18:30 in an apartment on Abu Nawas Street, with a silenced weapon. A medical source at Ibn al-Nafis hospital confirmed his death.
Mehdi was well known for his sharp critiques of government ineptitude and corruption on his show on Demozee radio, and he also wrote commentaries for several websites and was a playwright.
He was detained and allegedly tortured along with other journalists by security forces following a protest in Baghdad in February.
Human Rights Watch condemned Mehdi's killing in a Friday statement.
HRW said the "Iraqi authorities should conduct an immediate, full, and transparent investigation into the September 8 2011 killing of Hadi al-Mehdi... and prosecute those responsible".
New York-based press watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists said in June that Iraq topped its list of countries where media killings often go unpunished for the fourth year in a row, with an unsolved murder rate more than three times that of Somalia, which was next worst.