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Iraq Court Sentences 40 Over Tikrit Massacre

Iraqi soldiers salute next to a mass grave for Shi'ite soldiers from Camp Speicher who were killed by Islamic State militants in Tikrit, April 6, 2015.

An Iraqi court has sentenced 40 people to death for their part in the 2014 killing of hundreds of captured soldiers in the northern city of Tikrit.

The central criminal court in Baghdad on Tuesday convicted the men, all Iraqi nationals, and sentenced them to death by hanging. Seven others were acquitted of the charges for lack of evidence.

Hundreds of the recruits, mostly Shi'ite Muslims, were shot to death execution-style after the Islamic State militant group seized the provincial capital and overran the Camp Speicher air base previously used by U.S. troops. The militants captured roughly 1,700 soldiers who were trying to flee.

The Islamic State posted video showing the soldiers being shot to death while being forced to lay face down in a shallow ditch.

Judicial officials say more than 600 militants allegedly participated in the massacre. In July, 2014, 24 were convicted and sentenced to death. They are awaiting decisions on their appeals.

Rights groups have criticized the trial saying they have not met international standards.

Amnesty International, in a release Thursday, described the trial as "fundamentally flawed" saying it "shows a reckless disregard for justice and human life."

"These mass, expedited trials raise serious questions about whether the Iraqi authorities really want to uncover the truth behind these abhorrent attacks, or whether they simply want to create the illusion that justice has been done."