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Iraq Sentences 11 Terror Suspects to Death for Bloody August 19 Explosions

An Iraqi court has sentenced 11 men to death for the massive truck bombings in Baghdad last August that killed more than 100 people. Those convicted will now have a month to appeal their sentences.

The sentencing of 11 suspects to be hanged for the bloody car bombings that ravaged Iraq's foreign and finance ministries last August appears to be a clear signal that the government is reacting firmly against terrorism, less than two months before parliamentary elections are due to be held.

Close to 100 people were killed and more than 500 more were wounded in the bombings.

Two more devastating attacks in last October and December also left hundreds dead and wounded, further eroding the government's credibility in maintaining security.

The spokesman for Iraq's Supreme Judicial Council, Judge Abdul-Sattar Bayrkdar, said that the 11 were given a fair trial:

He says authorities made sure that conditions were conducive to a fair trial, regarding the media and the presence of attorneys for the defense, as well as presenting evidence from the inquest to the accused. He states that the criminal court set the dates of the hearings from Dec. 29 to January 14, after making all the needed preparations. The verdict, he adds, was to hang 11 of the accused men, condemned for the August explosions targeting the foreign and finance ministries, in accordance with article 4:1 of Iraq's terrorism law.

Judge Bayrkdar told Iraqi TV that evidence, including explosives, detonators and ready-to-deploy car-bombs, were uncovered by investigators in the locations where the 11 were arrested.

Shortly after the August bombings, Iraqi TV aired what it called a "confession" by an alleged member of Saddam Hussein's former Baath Party. The man calling himself Wisam Ali Khazem Ibrahim confessed that he was a former Baath member and police officer in the old regime and indicated that the bombings financed by top Baath official, based in Syria.

Both Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Foreign Minister Houshiar Zubeiri have accused both Syria and the Baath party of playing a role in the bombings. Damascus denies the charges.

Iraq is preparing for nationwide parliamentary elections in March, and officials have warned that insurgents trying to disrupt the vote could launch attacks as the election nears.