World

Iraq executes 42 alleged terrorists, including woman

A UN mission to Iraq has renewed a call for Baghdad to abolish capital punishment after 42 prisoners convicted on terrorism-related charges, including a woman, were hanged, a statement released by Iraq's justice ministry said Thursday.

Iraq has executed 132 people this year

Iraq's government defends the death penalty as a way to deter insurgents in an ongoing sectarian conflict that has claimed more than 5,000 lives over the past six months. Some 200 people have been killed so far in October. (The Associated Press)

Iraq has hanged 42 prisoners convicted of terrorism-related charges, including a woman, the Justice Ministry said Thursday. The executions are Baghdad's latest use of capital punishment despite international appeals to have it abolished.

With violence mounting since April, the government defends the death penalty as a way to face down insurgents it says are bent on destabilizing the country. More than 5,000 people have been killed in clashes over the past six months, including nearly 200 so far in October.

Human rights groups have questioned trial procedures in Iraqi courts, alleging that some verdicts are based on testimony obtained through torture or forced statements against the accused.

The ministry said all 42 executed over the past two days were Iraqis convicted of "terrorist crimes, killing dozens of innocents in addition to other crimes aimed at causing chaos and spreading horror."

Sentences were appealed "more than one time and verdicts were reviewed by the judges of the Appellate Court to check accuracy," it added in its statement.

Hours after the Justice Ministry statement was issued, the UN mission to Iraq, known as UNAMI, called for "an immediate suspension of all pending death sentences," renewing a request to the government of Iraq to work towards "the eventual abolition of the death penalty."

The statement was posted on the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq website.

In 2011, Iraq was ranked fourth among the world's top five executioners after China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the U.S., according to the London-based group Amnesty International.

So far, Iraq has executed 132 people this year.

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