A senior official in the Baath Party of now-executed dictator Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death for the draining of the country’s marshlands in the 1990s,the Iraqi court that tried him said o Tuesday.
“The Iraqi High Criminal Court has sentenced Mezban Khadar Hadi to death,” a court statement said.
Hadi was a member of the Revolutionary Command Council,the most powerful body during Saddam’s rule. He was arrested following the US-led invasion in March 2003,and was the nine of hearts in the deck of cards released by the Americans to identify the top officials in Saddam’s regime.
The court handed down several other verdicts against former Saddam officials yesterday,sentencing Abdul Ghani Abdul Ghafoor to life imprisonment.
Ghafoor,another senior member of Saddam’s now-banned Baath Party,was previously sentenced to death in December 2008 for his role in the violent repression of Iraqi Shiite Muslims in 1991 following the Gulf War.
The court dropped charges against Watban Ibrahim al-Hassan,the executed dictator’s half-brother,for lack of evidence.
The court,set up to prosecute members of Saddam’s regime,also sentenced former defence minister Sultan Hashim to 15 years in prison,while 28 others received sentences of between seven and 15 years.
The draining of the marshes,considered by some to be the location of the Biblical Garden of Eden,was carried out by Saddam in a bid to flush out Shiite rebels hiding out in the sprawling network of waterways.
Iraq’s southern marshes had been home to a unique culture for centuries before Saddam’s crackdown turned much of it to desert. Programmes to re-flood the marshlands since the dictator’s fall have seen only limited success in restoring lost habitats.