January 15, 2007

Saddam Half Brother, Ex-Official Hanged

Saddam Hussein's half brother and the former head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court were both hanged before dawn Monday, Prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon said, two weeks and two days after the former Iraqi dictator was executed in a chaotic scene that has drawn worldwide criticism.

Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, Saddam's half brother and former intelligence chief, and Awad Hamed al-Bandar head of Iraq's Revolutionary Court, had been found guilty along with Saddam in the killing of 148 Shiite Muslims after a 1982 assassination attempt on the former leader in the town of Dujail north of Baghdad.

Who was Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti? Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti is Saddam Hussein's half-brother, and his wife is the sister of Saddam's first wife, Sajeda Kheit Allah.

Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti was Saddam's enforcer, a man who ate grapes as he watched torture and was reputed to have a meat grinder for human flesh. His death was as grisly as some of those he inflicted on others. His head was ripped from his body by the hangman's noose as he plunged through the trapdoor of the gallows, according to a government spokesman who called it a rare mishap.

A witness at his trial said Barzan had personally supervised his torture with electric shocks in Baghdad in the 1980s, and had eaten grapes while the man screamed in agony. Another witness described how Barzan beat her and broke her ribs after she was hung naked from the ceiling by her feet.

Prosecution witness Ahmed Hassan described being taken to Barzan's interrogation facility in Baghdad and seeing a meat grinder for human flesh. Widely circulated film of him viciously kicking a man who lies cowering on the floor sealed his image as Saddam's enforcer.

Barzan ran Iraq's intelligence service from 1979 to 1983 but fell out of favour over his hatred for Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel Hassan, who married Saddam's daughter Raghd.

Barzan, who was born in February 1951 in Tikrit, resurfaced as Iraq's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva from 1988 to 1997. One of his roles there was as Iraq's envoy to the Conference on Disarmament, which was holding preliminary talks on nuclear bomb making fissile material.

Barzan was a former head of the Mukhabarat intelligence service and one of the most feared men in Iraq. Mukhabarat, the intelligence organisation, was believed to have tortured and murdered thousands of opponents of Saddam Hussein's regime.

After serving nearly a decade in the Swiss city, Barzan was called back to Baghdad in late 1998 after his wife died of cancer. But he returned regularly to Geneva to visit his six children who stayed to complete their studies.

Sources: GlobalSecurity.org, Reuters