Iraq executes 77 terrorists

2010-01-05 18:08

Baghdad - Iraq executed 77 people last year, all of whom were convicted of terrorism-related offences, the country's supreme court said on Tuesday.

"Seventy-seven death sentences were enforced in 2009," the head of the court Medhat al-Mahmud said in a statement.

According to the court, the prisoners were found guilty in "cases related to terrorism" and their punishment was applied as a matter of priority.

Last month, human rights group Amnesty International said that at least 120 prisoners had been executed by Iraq in 2009, and a further 900 remained on death row.

There was no immediate explanation of the discrepancy between the court's figures and those given by the London-based watchdog.

Amnesty urged Baghdad to stop the executions of all people condemned to death, adding that "some are likely to have been sentenced after unfair trials".

Baghdad reintroduced the death penalty in 2004, after a brief moratorium immediately after the US-led invasion of 2003. Those sentenced to death are usually hanged.

According to Amnesty, at least 285 people were sentenced to death in Iraq and 34 executed in 2008. In 2007, at least 199 were sentenced and 33 executed.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is an ardent supporter of capital punishment, but President Jalal Talabani opposes its use.