Public Interest Lawyers (PIL) are acting for a number of relatives of Iraqi Sunni sentenced to death for the murder of 70 Shia following a short show trial which concluded on 16 June 2011 that 15 members of an alleged armed group are to be hung shortly.
The alleged murders occurred in June 2006 and have been dubbed by Iraqi media as the “al-Taji Wedding Massacre”. On 28 May 2011 al-Iraqiya and al-Ifaq (two Iraqi TV stations) broadcast “confessions” from two men that they and others had committed brutal crimes, and a further defendant’s “confession” was broadcast in early June.
The crimes that these men have “confessed” to include:
- The murder of over 70 Shia.
- The dumping of all the bodies in a nearby river after tying the children to cement blocks.
- The brutal mutilation of the bride.
- The rape of the women in the party.
- The gang-rape of the bride before her execution.
There are serious and fundamental questions which require to be addressed immediately which include:
- Where are the bodies? None of the over 70 bodies have ever been found.
- Where are the relatives of the missing complaining about the whereabouts of their loved ones? There are, apparently, none.
- Where is the cellar beneath the mosque? The “confessions” include that the bride and bridegroom were taken to a cellar underneath a nearby mosque where they were brutally mutilated and executed. Video footage shows that the mosque in question does not have a cellar beneath it.
- How can there be a fair trial when the men were paraded on Iraqi TV before their short trial commenced on 10 June.
- Why were the men not legally represented and how is it safe to convict on the basis of televised “confessions”?
- Given that there is an enormous amount of evidence from the Wikileaks Iraq logs of brutal and medieval torture of Iraqis in detention with Iraqi authorities at the relevant time, how can the Iraqi courts be sure that these “confessions” are not tainted by torture.
Phil Shiner of PIL, who are acting in this matter said today:
“These convictions are entirely unsafe and it seems clear that these televised “confessions“ were obtained through the use of torture. I’m deeply concerned that these men may be hung shortly and I call on UK civil society to intervene in any manner possible to cause maximum pressure to be applied to the Iraqi authorities to give these men a fair trial and to commute the death sentence.”