Iraqi authorities havearrested an officialaccused of usinga cellphone to make a controversial recording of former president Saddam Hussein's hanging.
An adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki would not identify the person, but said it was an official who supervised the executionon Dec. 30. The cellphone video, leaked to the internet and broadcast on Al-Jazeera satellite television, sparked outrage among Iraq's Sunni Muslim minority and spurred protests across the country.
"In the past few hours, the government has arrested the person who made the video of Saddam's execution," the adviser said Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The video showed Saddam,a Sunni,was taunted and insulted by witnesses moments before his death. One witness told the deposed Iraqi leader to "go to hell."
The video, though grainy, also showed a graphic depiction of Saddam's death — he swings by the neck, his eyes open and his head twisted to the right.
The recording contrasts with the official execution video released by the Iraqi government thatwas muted and did not contain images of the moments when Saddam died.
One Iraqi prosecutor who witnessed the hanging said he saw two government officials openly making recordings of the hanging, using the lights already set up for the official execution video.
"They used their mobile phone cameras," prosecutor Munqith al-Faroon told the Associated Press on Wednesday. "I do not know their names,but I would remember their faces."
The Sunni minority had dominated thegovernment under Saddam, a Sunni, butlost their position of privilege after theU.S.-led invasion in 2003.The currentelected governmentis dominated by Shia political groups.
14 officials watched hanging, witness says
Al-Faroonsaid there were 14 Iraqi officials, including himself and another prosecutor, at the hanging. Three hangmen were also present.
The New York Times published an interview with al-Faroon on Wednesday, quoting him as identifying one of the cellphone videographers as Mowaffak al-Rubaie, a national security adviser and close aide to the prime minister.
On Wednesday, al-Faroon denied he accused al-Rubaie.
"I am not accusing Mowaffak al-Rubaie, and I did not see him taking pictures," al-Faroon told the Associated Press.
Reporters were unable to reach al-Rubaie for comment.
Al-Faroon, who helped convict Saddam of genocide, said he thought witnesses were supposed to turn in their cellphones before arriving at the execution chamber. He said the bodyguards of some officials smuggled phones in for their clients.
All officials were flown by helicopter to the site of the hanging — a former military intelligence facility where Saddam's own security men executed people for years.
Preparations to hang Saddam's co-defendants
Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday that they were working on a plan to hang two of Saddam's co-defendants in the next few days.
Former intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim, who is Saddam's half-brother,and Awad Hamed al-Bandar, the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court, were originally scheduled to hang on Dec. 30, along with Saddam.
But their sentences were delayed until after theEid al-Adha holiday, an important Muslim religious holiday. It ends Wednesday for Iraq's Shia majority.