Saddam Hussein's former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan was hanged early Tuesday for crimes against humanity. His execution comes on the fourth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. VOA's Margaret Besheer has more from northern Iraq.
At 3:05 in the morning local time, the former Iraqi vice president was hanged on a gallows at an Iraqi army and police base in northern Baghdad, which had been the headquarters of Saddam's military intelligence.
In November, Ramadan was convicted of murder, forced deportation and torture for his role in the executions of 148 Shi'ite men and boys from the town of Dujail after a failed 1982 assassination attempt against Saddam in the town.
Originally, Ramadan, who was nearly 70 years old, was sentenced to life in prison, but an Iraqi appeals court ruled that was too lenient, and he was sentenced to death.
At his sentencing, the judge condemned him to death by hanging, to which Ramadan proclaimed his innocence and cursed those who committed injustice against him.
International human rights groups and the U.N. human rights chief have protested the death penalty against Ramadan, saying there was insufficient evidence tying him to the Dujail killings.
Taha Yassin Ramadan is the third of Saddam's deputies to be executed for the Dujail crimes. The former Iraqi leader was hanged on December 30.
An Iraqi official said the execution was carried out smoothly. Saddam's hanging evoked an international outcry after illicit cell phone video of the former dictator being taunted as he was hanged surfaced on the Internet.
The January hanging of Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikriti, the head of Iraq's secret police, was also criticized, when al-Tikriti was decapitated by the rope used to hang him.
Officials said Tuesday that Ramadan was weighed right before his hanging to ensure the correct length of rope was chosen and that there would not be a repeat of the al-Tikriti incident.
The former vice president's son, Ahmad Taha Yassin Ramadan, told al-Jazeera television that one of his father's lawyers called the family to say he had witnessed the execution this morning before dawn, and that the Iraqi government said it would turn over the body to the family this afternoon in the town of Tikrit.
Taha Yassin Ramadan said before his death that he would like to be buried near Saddam, who is buried on the outskirts of his hometown of Tikrit.
Ramadan, who was Number 20 on the U.S. most wanted list of former regime members, was captured in August 2003 in the northern city of Mosul by Kurdish peshmerga fighters, who turned him over to American forces. He was in U.S. custody until an hour before his execution, when he was handed over to the Iraqis.