Iraqi Qaeda killer gets death

2010-05-23 19:15

Baghdad - An Iraqi court on Sunday sentenced an al-Qaeda militant to death for the kidnapping and murder of five Russian diplomats in June 2006, a judicial official said.

The unnamed man, the first to be convicted in connection with the killings, was handed down the sentence at Karkh criminal court in west Baghdad.

"The conviction was made according to anti-terrorism laws, over the kidnap and murder of five Russian employees working for the embassy of their country in Baghdad," a judicial official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"It was a heinous crime against diplomats. Their aim was to force countries to withdraw their embassies from Baghdad, as al-Qaeda and other extremist terrorist groups were seeking to do."

The official added that the five had all either been killed by gunfire or had their throats cut.

Russia's ambassador to Baghdad, Valerian Shuvaev, welcomed the verdict, but said the bodies of the diplomats have yet to be found.

"This is the first person who was convicted for the case, maybe there are others," Shuvaev told AFP.

Bodies still missing

"We have pressed Iraqi and American authorities, our partners, to help us, to make this story clear and to find the bodies of our colleagues - they have still not been found."

Four of the embassy employees were abducted when gunmen attacked their vehicle in the west Baghdad neighbourhood of Mansur on June 3 2006.

A fifth Russian diplomat was killed during the kidnapping.

The killings, which were claimed at the time by an insurgent group led by al-Qaeda, prompted condemnation from many countries, including the United States and the European Union.

The hostage-takers gave Moscow a 48-hour ultimatum to pull out of Russia's war-torn province of Chechnya and free Muslim prisoners, although Chechen rebels said they had nothing to do with the militant group in Iraq.

The head of Russia's FSB intelligence service at the time offered a $10m reward for information leading to the elimination of those who killed the embassy employees.

Russia opposed the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and overthrow of now executed dictator Saddam Hussein.

Read more on:    al-qaeda  |  russia  |  iraq  |  abductions
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