Video: Probe into video of Saddam's execution

updated 1/2/2007 3:17:20 PM ET 2007-01-02T20:17:20

The prime minister on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the conduct of Saddam Hussein’s execution in a bid to learn who among the witnesses taunted the former Iraqi leader in the last minutes of his life and leaked a cell phone video.

The video contained audio of some witnesses taunting Saddam with chants of “Muqtada” and of the former leader responding that his tormentors were being unmanly. It surfaced on Al-Jazeera television and the Internet late Saturday, the day Saddam was hanged.

The taunts referred to Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite cleric who is a main backer of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite leader who pushed for a quick execution of Saddam.

Al-Jazeera said when it broadcast the video that it was exclusive to them. The pictures appeared on the Web at about the same time.

Sami al-Askari, a close al-Maliki political adviser, told The Associated Press that the Iraqi leader had “ordered the formation of an investigative committee in the Interior Ministry to identify who chanted slogans inside the execution chamber and who filmed the execution and sent it to the media.”

Death in detail
The video was particularly inflammatory not only because the disrespectful chanting was clearly audible, but also because it showed Saddam’s death as he dropped through the gallows floor and then swung by his neck, his eyes open and neck twisted dramatically to his right.

The clandestine video portrayed a much different scene than the official tape of the execution, which was muted and did not show Saddam dropping to his death.

Al-Maliki adviser Sadiq al-Rikabi told the U.S.-financed Al-Hurra television that he does not know who leaked the video and that such an act “is wrong and should be investigated, and I agree that cellular telephones were taken from witnesses before they boarded the helicopter” for the execution site.

“I am full of hope that the results of the investigation will be announced, and the person who did this act should pay a price,” he said.

Witness to the execution
Munqith al-Faroon, an Iraqi prosecutor whose job was to convict Saddam Hussein of genocide, was one of the small group of witnesses at the hanging and he defended Saddam’s right to die in peace.

He said he knew that “two top officials ... had their mobile phones with them” at the execution, although other witnesses had their phones taken away beforehand.

“I am certain that the chanting at the moment of the execution was not organized, and that those chanting were not being ordered to do so,” al-Faroon said. “The guards made a decision to do so by themselves. This is the truth. I shouted at them and ordered them to keep silent, my voice is very clear in the recording.”

In the leaked video, which could not be independently verified by the AP, one voice called: “Allah, bless those who pray for Muhammad and his descendants. Allah, pray for Muhammad and his descendants and may they bring us their help soon and curse their enemies and back their son Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada.”

Saddam then asked, “Is this manly?”

A voice responded, “To hell.”

Another voice called out, “Long live Mohammed Baqir al-Sadr” — a reference to the Dawa Party founder and Shiite cleric who was executed along with his sister by Saddam in 1980.

Then, a voice purportedly belonging to al-Faroon said: “Please no, this man is being executed, please no, I beg you no.”

Sunnis outraged
Saddam’s execution and the way it was conducted have provoked anger among Sunni Muslims, who have taken to the streets in mainly peaceful demonstrations in Sunni enclaves across the country.

On Monday, a crowd of Sunni mourners in Samarra marched to a bomb-damaged Shiite shrine and were allowed by guards and police to enter the holy place carrying a mock coffin and photos of Saddam.

The protest took place at the Golden Dome, a Shiite shrine bombed by Sunni extremists 10 months ago. That attack triggered the current cycle of retaliatory attacks between Sunnis and Shiites in the form of daily bombings, kidnappings and murders.

Dictator mourned
Hundreds of demonstrators Monday mourned Saddam in a Sunni neighborhood in northern Baghdad. Some praised the Baath Party, the outlawed nationalist group that under Saddam cemented Sunni Arab dominance of Iraq.

In Dor, 77 miles north of Baghdad, hundreds marched to a dedication of a giant mosaic of Saddam. Men fired weapons into the air and children carried toy guns.

Mourners at a mosque in Saddam’s hometown of Tikrit slaughtered sheep as a sacrifice. The mosque’s walls were lined with condolence cards from tribes in southern Iraq and Jordan who were unable to travel to the memorial.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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