Iraqi journalists are calling for the execution of a presidential guard accused of killing the Baghdad bureau chief of Radio Free Iraq, an arm of the U.S. government's international broadcast operations.
Mourners marched through the streets of Baghdad on Sunday, carrying the casket with the remains of Mohammed Bdaiwi Owaid al-Shammari. He was shot dead early Saturday by an Iraqi presidential guard at the compound's gate, after the two argued over whose vehicle should pass through the checkpoint first.
The head of the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate, Muaed Allami, called for the death penalty for the guard, who is being held by Iraqi security forces.
"We have come here to declare our real stance, that we will not accept anything other than the death penalty for the killer who killed a civilian man carrying a doctorate certificate," he said. "He was a well-known journalist."
The guard was working for Iraqi President Jalal Talabani at a checkpoint near his residence.
The 46-year-old al-Shammari, known on the air as Hasan Rashid, was a longtime journalist who began working for Radio Free Iraq in 2006, becoming its Baghdad bureau chief in 2012.
Talabani expressed his deep sorrow for the "murder" of the journalist and said the shooter "will stand trial and receive his fair punishment." Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki called the killing "a violation of the law."
Radio Free Iraq is part of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, a network within the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, the independent agency that oversees all U.S. government-supported civilian international media, including Voice of America.
BBG chairman Jeff Shell described al-Shammari as a "committed journalist" who worked to ensure that the people of Iraq received reliable, unbiased news.
He is the third Radio Free Iraq journalist to be killed since it began broadcasting in 1998. He is survived by his wife and three children.