Iraqi court sentences 40 to death over Tikrit massacre

Iraqi court sentences 40 to death over Tikrit massacre
As many as 1,700 Iraqi soldiers were massacred in 2014, but some have already criticised the verdict as having political motivations.
2 min read
18 February, 2016
The massacre was carried out during the IS northern offensive in Iraq [Getty]
An Iraqi court on Thursday sentenced 40 men to death over the June 2014 massacre by militants of hundreds of military recruits in Tikrit, a statement said.

The central criminal court in Baghdad found 40 of 47 defendants guilty of involvement in the "Speicher" massacre, named after the base near where the victims were captured before being executed, said Abdel Sattar Bayraqdar, spokesman for Iraq's judiciary.

The Iraqi judiciary had previously sentenced 24 to execution by hanging for the massacre, believed to have been led by Islamic State group militants, last July.

That verdict sparked criticism, being issued after a single court session, with critics accusing judges of political motivations. A number of the accused were relatives of Saddam Hussein, while others were reportedly not present in Tikrit during that time.

Similarly, one of the judges at the Iraqi Central Criminal court criticised Thursday's verdict, telling The New Arab that the judgement arose from political pressure exerted on the Iraqi judiciary.

He said that the trial was treated as a "routine procedure", and that the defendants had not been given an adequate chance to defend themselves or present evidence.

As many as 1,700 soldiers were killed after they fled Camp Speicher, a former US military base just north of Saddam Hussein's home town of Tikrit, and were rounded up by militants during the northern offensive by the Islamic State group.