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Arrest Made in Saddam Execution Probe


An Iraqi official says the person believed to have recorded an unofficial video of Saddam Hussein's execution on a camera phone has been arrested and is being questioned. The video, which shows witnesses taunting the former president in the moments before he was hanged Saturday, has inflamed Sunni Arabs in Iraq and elsewhere. VOA's Margaret Besheer has more from northern Iraq.

An adviser to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Wednesday that an individual has been detained and is under investigation for having made the video of Saddam's execution.

The identity of the person detained has not been released.

The film had poor audio and grainy pictures, but clearly showed the former Iraqi strongman at the gallows and then in some Internet versions, falling through the trap door and hanging to death.

In the accompanying audio, persons in the room could clearly be heard shouting taunts at Saddam in his last moments, telling him to "go to hell" and chanting the names of two Shi'ite rivals of Saddam. The former dictator shouted back at them, "Is this how you show your bravery as men?" and told them to "go to hell."

The Iraqi government announced Tuesday that it was launching an investigation into the matter. Only about 17 people were present in the execution chamber.

Munqith al-Faroon, one of the prosecutors in the trial that sent Saddam to the gallows, was a witness at Saturday's execution. He told an Arabic-language television channel that only two officials had camera phones in the room and that he knows who they are but would not name them to the press.

In earlier media reports, al-Faroon allegedly accused Iraqi National Security Adviser Mouffac al-Rubaie of being one of two people who used a mobile phone to videotape the execution. Al-Faroon later denied those reports.

The video has further inflamed sectarian tensions between Iraq's Shi'ite and Sunni Arabs. Sunnis in Iraq and Jordan have staged demonstrations since the execution, saying it was purely an act of Shi'ite revenge, and the Shi'ite-led government has come under criticism from other Islamic nations for carrying out the hanging on the morning of a major Muslim religious holiday, Eid al-Adha.

An Iraqi special tribunal condemned Saddam to death on November 5 for his role in ordering the executions of 148 Shi'ites from the town of Dujail after a failed assassination attempt against him there in 1982.

Meanwhile, there are media reports that two of Saddam's lieutenants who helped carry out the Dujail executions will be hanged soon, possibly as early as Thursday: his half brother, Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, who was head of intelligence in 1982, and Bawad al-Bandar, the chief Judge of the Revolutionary Court that handed down the Dujail death sentences.

The Iraqi court that upheld the death sentences said they must be carried out by January 27. On the day of Saddam's execution, National Security Adviser al-Rubaie said al-Tikriti and al-Bandar's sentences would be carried out after the Muslim holiday, but did not specify when. Al-Rubaie said the government wanted to execute the former dictator alone, to make it a "special day" for Saddam.

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