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Iraqi Justice Ministry guards questioned over Saddam hanging cell phone video

[JURIST] Two Iraqi Justice Ministry guards are now being questioned in connection with the taping and release of a camera phone video [WARNING: graphic images; JURIST report] showing the execution [JURIST report] of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], according to Iraqi lawmaker Sami al-Askeri. Iraqi officials said Wednesday that an official who supervised the execution was also arrested [JURIST report] in connection to making the video, but further details are not yet available. The government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC profile] launched an investigation [JURIST report] earlier this week into who made the video and how it was distributed.

The video, apparently shot with a cell phone camera by a witness to the hanging, shows witnesses taunting Hussein before he was hanged and depicts Hussein's body dropping through the trap door of the gallows. A separate, authorized video released by Iraqi state television did not include any audio recording and did not show Hussein's actual death. AP has more.

Iraqi officials have been criticized for their handling of Hussein's execution, with a US military spokesman saying Wednesday that the US would have handled the hanging differently [JURIST report], but an adviser to al-Maliki insisted Wednesday that the execution had been done appropriately. Sadiq al-Rikabi said in a statement reported by the New York Times that Iraq's conduct of the execution "has been mischaracterized for political purposes." Al-Maliki's office, meanwhile, has also confirmed that the US embassy in Baghdad pressed for a delay [JURIST report] of the execution over unresolved legal issues, but legal adviser Maryam al-Rayas called the decision to push forward with the hanging "a victory for the Iraqi government." The New York Times has more.

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