Iraq hangs 36 over 2014 Speicher Massacre by IS

Iraq hangs 36 over 2014 Speicher Massacre by IS
Over 1,700 Iraqi troops were massacred by Islamic State group militants in 2014, and on Sunday Baghdad authorities put to death 36 people suspected of the killings.
2 min read
21 August, 2016
Victims of the massacre only began to be buried a year later [AFP]

Thirty six men were hanged to death by Iraqi authorities on Sunday over the 2014 Speicher Massacre when hundeds of Iraqi recruits were put to death by militants.

The men were found guilty of involvement in the Islamic State group's infamous massacre in western Iraq, named after the army camp near Tikrit where the recruits were killed.

Up to 1,700 troops were believed to have been kidnapped and murdered by the militants, following IS' lightening sweep through northern Iraq in the summer of 2014.

"The executions of 36 convicted over the Speicher crime were carried out this morning in Nasiriyah prison," a spokesman for the governor's office in Dhiqar told AFP.

"The governor of Dhiqar, Yahya al-Nasseri and Justice Minister Haidar al-Zamili were present to oversee the executions," Abdelhassan Dawood said.

"They were transferred to Nasiriyah last week after the president approved the executions," he said, referring to the necessary green light from Fuad Masoum.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has already said that he wants to expedite the execution of prisoners sentenced to death, following a bomb attack in Baghdad last month which left over 300 people dead.

Around 400 killed in the Speicher massacre were from Dhiqar, a predominantly Shia province in southern Iraq.

"Tens of relatives attended the executions," said Dawood. "They shouted Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), they were happy to see those people dead."

The trials that have led to Iraq's latest batches of death sentences have been severely criticised by rights groups as failing to meet basic standards.

Amnesty International had slammed Iraq's systematic resort to the death penalty following the execution of 22 other people in May this year.

"The use of the death penalty is deplorable in all circumstances, and it is particularly horrendous when applied after grossly unfair trials marred by allegations of confessions extracted under torture as is frequently the case in Iraq," the group's Iraq researcher Diana Eltahawy said.

The United Nations had criticised Abadi's call to speed up executions, which according to Amnesty already topped 100 for 2016 before Sunday's hangings.

"Fast-tracking executions will only accelerate injustice," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein said earlier this month.

The Speicher massacre is considered one of IS' worst crimes so far.

Along with a call from Iraq's top Shia cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani for Iraqis to take up arms against IS, the Speicher massacre played a key role in the mass recruitment of Shiite volunteers to fight the armed group.

Agencies contributed to this story.