27 sentenced to death in Iraq for Islamic State mass killings

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Baghdad, Aug 8 (IANS/AKI) The Central Criminal Court of Iraq on Tuesday sentenced 27 people to death for their role in a massacre of up to 1,700 soldiers in northern Iraq by militants from the Islamic State jihadist group, said a local media report.

The condemned men can appeal the sentences issued by the High Judicial Council for the June 2014 massacre at Camp Speicher, northwest of Tikrit, the Iraqinews.com website cited a court spokesman as saying.

When it overran the city of Tikrit in June 2014, IS executed an unknown number of Iraqi army recruits at the Camp after they surrendered, threw dozens of the bodies in the Tigris River and buried hundreds in mass graves, from which 89 corpses have since been discovered.

IS said at the time of the massacre that it had executed 1,700 Shia soldiers who had surrendered while 800 Sunni troops had been “pardoned”.

Photos and videos published by IS at the time showed soldiers being lined up and shot at various locations and dumped out of trucks into shallow graves.

Tuesday’s death sentences were the latest batch passed in connection with the Camp Speicher killings. 36 men were hanged a year ago for their part in the massacre after the government put then on a fast-track to capital punishment – a move strongly criticised by the United Nations and rights groups.

IS’s capture of Tikrit was part of a wider assault that saw the group capture swathes of Iraq and Syria and declare the northern Iraqi city of Mosul the capital of its self-styled caliphate in June 2014.

The group still holds a few areas of Iraq, in Anbar, Salahuddin, Diyala and Kirkuk, according to Iraqinews.com.

The Iraqi government said in July it had concluded a more than nine-month-long military campaign to liberate Mosul from IS.

–IANS/AKI

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