Last updated: 17 November, 2011

Iraq executes Tunisian for mosque bombing

Iraq has executed a Tunisian man convicted of involvement in a 2006 attack on a revered Shiite shrine that unleashed a wave of sectarian bloodshed, a justice ministry spokesman said on Thursday.

The ministry “executed 11 people on Wednesday, including a Tunisian convicted of involvement in the bombing of Al-Askari shrine in Samarra in 2006,” the spokesman said, asking to have his name withheld.

The 11, who also included an Egyptian and nine Iraqis, among them a woman, were all convicted of terrorism offences, the spokesman said.

The Tunisian, 27-year-old Yusri al-Tariki, had been detained in Iraq since 2006, after travelling to the country in 2003 to participate in the insurgency against US forces, his father Fakher al-Tariki said.

He was condemned to death in Iraq for involvement in the killings of “hundreds” of Americans and Iraqis, including a journalist from the Al-Arabiya satellite station, as well as the Samarra shrine attack.

His father said his son was tortured and forced to implicate himself.

Tunisia’s interim president, Fouad Mebazaa, had appealed to Iraqi President Jalal Talabani in a November 10 message to pardon Tariki.

The 2006 bombing of the gold-domed shrine of revered ninth-century imam Hassan al-Askari, which draws pilgrims from Iraq and around the world, unleashed the worst sectarian violence in the history of Iraq, in which tens of thousands were killed.

Tunisia’s foreign ministry voiced its regret at the execution and offered its condolences to Tariki’s grieving family.

Tunis “has expressed its regrets following the execution by the Iraqi authorities of Tunisian citizen Yusri al-Tariki, despite efforts by Tunisia to obtain his pardon,” the ministry said in a statement run by the TAP news agency.

And Amnesty International called on Iraq to commute all death sentences and to ensure verdicts were not based on forced confessions as it raised doubts about the 11 death sentences.

“Given the appalling state of Iraq’s justice system, it is questionable whether these 11 people received a fair trial,” said Philip Luther, the rights watchdog’s acting director for the Middle East and North Africa.

“Iraq must immediately commute the death sentences of the hundreds of people remaining on death row in the country.

“The authorities must also ensure that trials meet international standards for fair trial, and are not based on confessions extracted under torture and other ill-treatment,” he said in a statement.