Basra Criminal Court has sentenced two people affiliated with a so-called “death squad” accused of killing Iraqi citizens and journalists to death by hanging.
A statement issued by the Supreme Judicial Council said Aqeel Hadi would be executed “for killing a citizen participating in the October demonstrations in Basra". According to the court, Hadi had confessed to murdering a man who attended the widespread anti-government protests that began in October 2019, near the Shatt al-Arab Al-Jameh schools in Basra Governorate.
The court issued a second death sentence to Hamza Kadhim al-Aidani, a police officer convicted of the assassination of journalist Ahmed Abdul Samad and camera operator Safaa Ghali in Basra Governorate on January 10, 2020. The pair were shot dead as they travelled home from covering the protests. A group of citizens and activists gathered in front of the courthouse in Basra before the verdict was pronounced, chanting slogans condemning the accused.
Muhammad Abdul Samad, the brother of Ahmed Abdul Samad, told IranWire he appreciated justice being meted out by the judicial authorities in Basra. He also called for the redoubling of efforts by the security services to arrest other people accused of killing activists and demonstrators in Iraq. Abdul Samad added that he had wanted to talk to his brother's killer, but police had not allowed him to.
Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi announced that group members had been arrested in a tweet on February 15 this year: “The death squad that terrified people in Basra, spread horror in its streets, and killed innocent people is now in the hands of justice, in preparation for a fair, public trial.” He also vowed that the murderers of activist Reham Yacoub and analyst and security expert Hisham Al-Hashimi would be brought to justice.