BAGHDAD Saddam Hussein s former deputy was hanged before dawn Tuesday for the killings of 148 Shiites, an official with the prime minister s office said.
Taha Yassin Ramadan, who was Saddam s vice president when the regime was ousted four years ago, was the fourth man to be executed in the killings of 148 Shiites following a 1982 assassination attempt against the former leader in the city of Dujail.
The official, who witnessed the hanging but spoke on condition of anonymity because an official announcement had not been made, said precautions had been taken to prevent a repeat of what happened to Saddam s half brother Barzan Ibrahim, who was decapitated on the gallows.
Ramadan was weighed before the hanging and the length of the rope was chosen accordingly, the official said.
The executions have outraged Iraqi Sunnis and caused concern among international human rights groups, which have appealed for Ramadan s life.
Ramadan was convicted in November of murder, forced deportation and torture and sentenced to life in prison. A month later, an appeals court said the sentence was too lenient, and returned his case to the High Tribunal, demanding he be sentenced to death. The court turned it into a death sentence.
Ramadan has maintained his innocence, saying his duties were limited to economic affairs, not security issues. Human Rights Watch and the International Center for Transitional Justice have said the evidence against him was insufficient for the death penalty.
Saddam was executed on Dec. 30 for his role in the killings. Two of his co-defendants in the Dujail case his half brother and former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, former head of Iraq s Revolutionary Court were executed in January.
Saddam s death was recorded by a cell phone video camera and posted on the Internet, and much of the Sunni Arab world was infuriated by the mockery he faced by onlookers in the moments before his hanging. Ibrahim was inadvertently decapitated when he was hanged, also causing a furor.
Saddam s regime was predominantly Sunni, and many members of the sect have protested the executions on the grounds they are politically motivated by the newly empowered Shiite majority in Iraq.
International human rights groups have, by and large, protested that the trial which found the men guilty did not provide them with due legal process.
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