Iraq sets free Saddam Hussien’s loyalist

August 5th, 2010 - 12:38 am ICT by IANS  

Baghdad, Aug 4 (IANS) A former Saddam Hussien loyalist was set free after being cleared of draining the marshlands in the country’s south, while other co-defendants were sentenced ranging from seven years in prison to death penalty, an official said Wednesday.
Khamis Sirhan al-Muhammad, the No. 54 of the 55 most wanted Saddam officials, was freed several days ago and has been living in Saqlawiyah town, some 50 km west of Baghdad, the official, also a relative of Muhammad, told Xinhua.

Muhammad had been the Baath Party regional command leader and commander for Saddam’s militia in Iraq’s western Anbar province. He was captured Jan 11, 2004, under accusation of helping the former regime drain the country’s marshlands during a crackdown against Shia rebels.

Earlier in the week, the Iraqi High Criminal Court issued verdicts against the case’s other co-defendants, including a death penalty for Mizban Khidir Hadi, the No. 23 most wanted Saddam officials, a justice ministry official said.

Hadi was a member of the Revolutionary Command Council, the most powerful body during Saddam’s rule. He was captured July 9, 2003 after President Saddam Hussien was toppled by the US-led international coalition in March 2003.

Among the 32 co-defendants, the court sentenced former defence minister Sultan Hashim al-Taie 15 years in prison and seven years for Aziz Salih al-Numan, another senior Baath Party member, the source said.

Saddam Hussien’s regime drained 90 percent of Iraq’s ancient marshes which have been allegedly used by Shia rebels as shelter and launch pad during their uprising against the Saddam regime.

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