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Iraq executes former Saddam Hussein official

The Iraqi government has executed Abid Hamid Mahmud, a former bodyguard and secretary of Saddam Hussein [JURIST news archive], an official from the Iraqi Justice Ministry said Thursday. Mahmud was sentenced to death [JURIST report] by hanging in 2010 alongside former Iraqi foreign minister and deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and one other official, after being convicted of genocide in connection with his service under Hussein. The three officials were members of Saddam's Baath Party [BBC backgrounder] and were convicted for their roles in the persecution of various Iraqi religious parties, including the Dawa Party [party website]. Aziz remains in prison [AFP report], and it is unclear if his execution will be carried out

Death sentences for former Hussein officials have led to controversy. Aziz, who was sentenced to death in 2010, sought a pardon of his sentence after Iraqi President Jalal Talabani [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] said in an interview that he would not sign the execution order [JURIST report] for Aziz. Aziz's family had previously called for his release on health grounds, claiming he had two heart attacks and suffered a stroke [JURIST report] while in custody. Aziz has been in prison since 2003.

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